Endorsements matter in presidential campaigns … but they’re clearly not all created equal. And they’re not always accompanied by action. Individuals or organizations saying they support a candidate is one thing, but the concept of an activist army throwing its weight behind a candidate is something else entirely.
Talk is cheap, in other words …
Earlier this week, we reported on former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley landing a big endorsement in her bid for the American presidency. The support Haley is receiving from AFP Action – the political arm of Americans for Prosperity – is a tremendous shot in the arm for her campaign.
I referred to this endorsement as “more than just an imprimatur.”
“It is money,” I noted. “Data. Grassroots engagement.”
All of which is accruing to Haley’s benefit at the precise moment she is surging in the polls in several critical early voting states (although in fairness, Haley still trails presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump by wide margins in each of those states).
Still, she has drawn even with Florida governor Ron DeSantis in Iowa and leapfrogged him in New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first caucus and primary elections, respectively. She has also leapfrogged DeSantis in her home state.
This week, we saw AFP Action’s grassroots engagement on display in the heart of early-voting South Carolina – a state Haley led for six years prior to being tapped by the former president as his ambassador to the United Nations.
Armed with door hangers extolling Haley’s virtues and touting her electability against incumbent president Joe Biden, AFP Action volunteers selected homes of target voters based on apps loaded onto their smartphones.
“Here in South Carolina our grassroots team is out starting at nine in the morning every day knocking until it gets dark – Monday through Saturday,” said AFP Action senior advisor Candace Carroll. “So six days a week we’re out eight-plus hours a day. That’s the unique opportunity that we bring.”
Carroll said that effort was generating buzz among volunteers – and South Carolina voters.
“People are excited about the endorsement,” Carroll said. “So we’re excited to see how that can help in South Carolina.”
AFP Action staff advisor Jeremiah Mosteller joined Carroll on this particular neighborhood walk – reinforcing the ability of their organization to coordinate such outreach and voter identification in multiple states at the same time.
“Another thing that sets AFP Action apart is we can do this in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina all at the same time,” Mosteller said “Whereas you notice even the candidates are picking and choosing where they’re focusing their firepower, we can do it all simultaneously because we have that local support and that grassroots base in each state.”
(Click to view)
(Via: AFP Action)
Not everyone is sold on the Haley buzz, though. According to Jack Shafer of Politico, the endorsement was less about support for Haley and more “a rejection of Ron DeSantis, who has been sinking during the same interval as if riding a playground slide into the dirt.”
Shafer also slammed the national media for trying to make “Fetch” happen as it relates to Haley’s ascendant candidacy.
“What has the press hyperventilating about Haley is not her relative rise in the national polls over the past month (about two percentage points), or the fact that she’s drawing even with DeSantis in Iowa,” Shafer wrote. “Nor is it the remote possibility that she’ll eclipse former President Trump. No, what’s causing the swoon is her uphill climb to defeat DeSantis for the meaningless position as the second-place finisher in the race.”
Wait … is that really what this is all about? A second-place ribbon?
At the moment, yes. Haley’s comet has about as much a chance of catching Trump as Trump has of catching Halley’s Comet the next time it rolls through (he’d be 115). Still, if Haley finishes ahead of DeSantis in Iowa – and then leverages that momentum to pull within ten percentage points of Trump in New Hampshire, South Carolina could become “high noon” for the GOP nominating fight.
Shafer isn’t sold on those dominos falling into place, though.
“Upsets can happen! The journalistic show must go on! ” he wrote, tongue firmly implanted in cheek. “Because political reporters, like sportswriters, hate blowouts as much as they relish tight contests, they are prepared to spill as much ink on the also-rans as is journalistically defensible.”
Is AFP Action making a winning bet? Or is Shafer’s take on the money?
Keep it tuned to this media outlet to see how the chips fall as we move closer to the first day of decision in the 2024 presidential election …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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