Palin's Endorsements Still Work With Underdog Candidates


Late Tuesday, Palin congratulated Fischer in a statement that also jabbed at those who thought Fischer didn't have a shot (Rick Santorum and Sen. Jim DeMint endorsed losing candidates), saying she was "not part of the good old boys' permanent political class" but rather one of the "commonsense conservatives .... who are bold enough to step up and run on a conservative platform to restore America and protect our children's future."

But Palin's streak will be on the line in Texas later this month. Just four days before early voting began ahead of the state's May 29 U.S. Senate primary, Palin endorsed Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz. He's taking on a strong, self-financed candidate, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who started with better name recognition and is still holding the frontrunner spot. They are running to take the place of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who is retiring. In red Texas it's likely that whoever wins this primary will head to victory in November. The situation in Texas is different from that in Nebraska. Palin's support for Cruz puts her on the same side as national Tea Party groups like Freedomworks and anti-tax groups like the Club for Growth, which are pouring millions of dollars into the race.

James Bernsen, Cruz's communications director, said right after the Palin endorsement, they received between 900 and 1,000 online donations almost immediately. A huge boon to their campaign.

Going forward, Palin will include Fischer as a notch in her belt, but some Nebraska political watchers doubt Palin's nod did anything to help Fischer. John Hibbing, a political science professor from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, believes it wasn't Palin or any of the endorsements because they just don't matter to Nebraskans.

"I'm skeptical the Palin endorsement in and of itself did anything," Hibbing said, adding he was one who thought just a month ago Fischer did not have a chance.

Instead he believes "it was a series of events," including the superPAC money, which Hibbing said was the first time Fischer went negative and was able to separate herself from Bruning and Stenberg. He also said to pay attention to the timing. The Palins endorsed one week ago.

"Movement in the polls had already taken place," Hibbing said. "There was dissatisfaction with the frontrunner [Bruning], no one really thought anything was wrong with [Fischer], her negatives were extremely low ... she appealed to the Western part of the state, which has a strong element of the Republican Party."

One big endorsement Palin hasn't made: Mitt Romney, of course. Palin clearly preferred Newt Gingrich and voted for him in the Alaska primary, but never technically endorsed him outside of her Fox News hits.

It will be hard for Palin to spin the anti-establishment Mama Grizzly brand she has cultivated into vocal support for the GOP nominee.

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