Richard Greene

March 8, 2014

Do endorsements count for much in elections?

Aggressive conservative organizations had Tuesday’s elections pegged.

There have been lots of analyses about how the candidates fared in Tuesday’s primary elections but not so much as to how the endorsements of high-profile entities came out.

Let’s take a look and see if voters care very much about what others say you should do with your ballot.

I’ve selected five entities from the many that regularly recommend candidates they would like to see as winners.

First up and leading all the others by a wide margin are the often-discussed authors of the “green card,” who have been making endorsements for the past 15 years.

Columnist Bud Kennedy says they are “religious right,” but their actual name is the DFW Conservative Voters PAC, based in Arlington.

Regardless of what you wish to call them, they nailed the Tarrant County election results.

They made recommendations in 27 races, and all but three of the candidates they endorsed got the most votes in each contest.

That’s a success score of almost 90 percent.

Pretty impressive, don’t you think?

Next up is the NE Tarrant County Tea Party leaders’ poll, which listed favorites in 33 races.

A total of 24 of the candidates leaders favored were the top vote-getters.

That gives the Tea Party leaders a score of 72 percent, making their argument that they are a force to be reckoned with a convincing one.

That conclusion may be especially true when comparing their results with that of the Tarrant Republican Club PAC.

They offered endorsements for 24 candidates, with only half of them scoring the most votes.

To regain their leadership among conservatives, Republican organizations are being forced to consider the question of whether their principles and policies represent the thinking of most voters on the right.

The two big area newspapers’ editorial boards have always let readers know their preferences in upcoming races.

Their endorsement has usually been one that candidates would like to secure.

The belief is, as the watchdogs of government, their opinions matter.

The Star-Telegram offered recommendations in 16 races, including five on the Democratic ballot. Nine of the candidates they recommended won the most votes. That’s a successful outcome of about 56 percent.

To the East, The Dallas Morning News weighed in on 51 races — 29 in the Republican primary and 22 in the Democratic contest. Altogether, 63 percent of the candidates they picked prevailed.

Newspaper readership has declined in recent years, so it might be logical to say they have less impact on election outcomes than they used to.

I’m not sure what all of this means, but I’ve never met a candidate who rejected an endorsement from any of these sources.

In fact, most of them use the recommendations in their campaign literature, hoping to gain favor with voters who might be making decisions based on the published favorites.

Having been a candidate in seven elections, I always thought it was better to have the support than not.

If gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis and Texas Democrats who are planning on turning Texas blue are looking over these results, they probably are making conclusions confirming what they already knew.

The most aggressive conservative organizations are winning.

If the so-called “religious right” and the Tea Party turn out their supporters in November, Democrats are going to have to regroup and try another day to accomplish the Texas transformation they are seeking.

Still, it is a long time to the November general election. In political life, things can change overnight.

Complacency, especially when so few make even the minimum effort required to cast a vote, could be the most powerful force of all.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as Regional Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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