Former President Donald Trump has galloped to an early lead in the endorsement sweepstakes—bigly, as he might say.
Some fans of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis worry that he hurt his chances because he had not yet declared his candidacy as of May 3. Many believe DeSantis would have entered the race sooner if not for Florida’s resign-to-run law, which lawmakers have worked to adjust, presumably to accommodate a DeSantis presidential run.
In the meantime, Trump has gobbled up endorsements like a political Pac-Man, even in DeSantis’ home state.
As of May 1, Trump counted 11 Florida congressmen in his corner, including Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz, Greg Steube, and rising star Byron Donald’s, one of only two black Republicans in the House of Representatives.
In contrast, DeSantis snagged only Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Brandon).
Thus far, 49 House members—about one-fourth of the Republican total—have announced they’re supporting Trump, according to BallotPedia.org.
Also in the Trump column: 10 U.S. senators, plus the governors of West Virginia and South Carolina. So far, DeSantis remained scoreless in both of those categories.
If DeSantis does declare as expected, he will be playing a difficult, but not impossible, game of catch-up.
These tallies matter because endorsements “have proven to be pretty predictive of who wins presidential nominating contests,” political gurus at FiveThirtyEight.com say.
Since 1972, endorsements have outperformed political polls as accurate predictors of presidential nominees, says the site, whose name derives from the total U.S. electoral college votes, 538.
According to the data, Trump currently has a total of 72 endorsements, DeSantis has 5, and former Vice President Mike Pence and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley both have 1.
Based on FiveThirtyEight’s unique scoring system, which gives more weight to prominent endorsers, Trump racked up 244 endorsement points as of May 1. The next-closest possible contender, DeSantis, trailed far behind with only 13 points.
Still, DeSantis and the other candidates have plenty of uncommitted endorsers to court. As of late April, only 11 percent of all possible endorsement points had been allotted in FiveThirtyEight’s analysis.
By Janice Hisle