On the eve of the 2016 presidential election, I’ve tallied up the partisan state legislative endorsements of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Clinton as far as I can tell has 1,359 endorsements from sitting Democratic state legislators, which represents 43% of the 3,163 Democratic state legislators in the country. Democrats are clearly unified in support of their candidate.
Trump as far as I can tell has only 230 endorsements from incumbent Republican state legislators, which represent 5.6% of the 4,119 Republican state legislators. The Republican party is unified at the state legislator level — in not endorsing Donald Trump. While I don’t have the numbers for previous elections to back it up, my subjective memory and interpretation is that this number is pretty much unprecedented.
The thing to remember is that state legislators represent the farm team for future members of Congress, governors, or even the President. A post-2016 future for the Republican party doesn’t look like it has much room for a candidate like Trump, at least going by these numbers.
Unlike past contests, in Tuesday’s primaries, a different candidate has an endorsement lead from state legislators. In Idaho, Ted Cruz is winning, in Michigan it’s Marco Rubio, and in Mississippi it’s Donald Trump (the only state he’s ever “won” this way).
There are only 8 Republican state legislators in Hawaii, and one of them, Senator Sam Slom, has endorsed Ted Cruz.
In today’s Republican primaries, Marco Rubio leads the endorsement race amongst state legislators in 3 out of 4 states, and in the 4th, Maine, he is behind by only a single endorsement.
All 24 of 72 Kentucky Republicans have endorsed Rubio.
Super Tuesday is today. Below are the endorsement counts in 11 of these states. Note that Alaska and Colorado Republicans have made no endorsements of the 5 currently running candidates.
The pattern is clear: Marco Rubio is the overwhelming leader in 9 of 11 of these states. Ted Cruz has the endorsement lead in his home state of Texas, as well as Wyoming.
Rubio’s endorsement lead amongst the variety of Super Tuesday states is a testament to the idea that he is the most acceptable to most of the Republican party’s factions, as opposed to Ted Cruz.
Trump and Carson are complete non-entities when it comes to Super Tuesday endorsements, though of course they don’t seem to care much. Presumably Kasich does — and the party signal here is very clear, apart from 2nd place in states like Massachusetts and Virginia.
Two endorsements — both Marco Rubio.
Over the past year, Ted Cruz has led the field in endorsements from sitting Republican state legislators. That provided a different narrative than Congressional endorsements, where Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio led for a long time.
No longer. The Republican party is turning to Rubio very rapidly, as can be seen below:
In the past two weeks, Marco Rubio has accumulated an unprecedented haul of endorsements and is now the clear frontrunner, passing by Cruz. As of today, he has 301, or 41% of those making endorsements. Cruz has 258, or 35%.
For the rest of the candidates, the endorsement race has been very static. Kasich hasn’t had many new endorsements since early December and is stuck around 100. The same is true of Trump, who has barely got any new endorsements in 2016. Ben Carson has collected a mere 2 endorsements.
These new endorsements are certainly welcome news for Rubio as the party seems to be rapidly coalescing around him as the alternative to Trump. Is it, however, too little and too late?
Today is the Nevada Republican caucus. Of the 34 elected and sitting Republican state legislators, 62% of them have endorsed a presidential candidate. Marco Rubio dominates the endorsement race, with 14 to Ted Cruz’s 6 and John Kasich’s 1. This differs from the national race, where Cruz leads narrowly. Rubio’s lead with state legislators echoes his domination of congressional endorsements in Nevada.
Here is how the endorsement race has changed over time. Note Rubio’s acceleration.
Including retired state legislators, the endorsement count looks like this: