What criteria are used by most organizations to determine endorsements?
Sometimes an endorsement decision is driven by a single individual but most often there is a committee or a board that will make endorsement recommendations.
The endorsement process and rationale vary slightly from organization to organization but essentially it boils down to three main factors.
1) Is the candidate viable? Can they win? Are they running a winning campaign?
*The incumbent normally has an advantage with this criteria, but not always.
*A candidate will often be asked to describe “their path to victory.” How much money have they raised? How many votes do they need to win and what is there plan to get those votes?
*The likelihood of a candidate not succeeding in one particular race may be weighed against the possibility of long-term electoral success and other factors.
2) Does the candidate share the organization’s core values?
*This is determined via “past actions” and/or a questionnaire/interview.
*Has the candidate supported/opposed issues important to the organization?
3) Can the candidate be trusted to “do the right thing” and “vote the right way?
*No candidate will bat 100%, and vote on every issue correctly, every time.
*Every organization will have a bias as to what “voting the right way” means.
*Most candidates will not promise 100% compliance and most endorsing organizations don’t expect the candidate to be a rubber stamp. However, on the “big issues” and when it is “crunch time” on important issues, the organization will expect the candidate to “vote their values” upon which the endorsement is based. “Their values” means the values the candidate professed when seeking the endorsement, and that are aligned with the values of the organization making the endorsement.
*While some will refer to an expectation of “voting the right way” as a “quid pro quo” in actuality the endorsing organization is simply expecting the candidate to be the person they said they were, upon which the endorsement was based.
Why is one candidate endorsed and not another?
*Sometimes, a candidate does not want to be endorsed.
*Some organizations do not endorse in uncontested races (only one candidate running).
*A candidate may not be on the organization’s “radar” and perhaps did not “reach out or seek the endorsement” and thus may not be considered.
*Prior experience with a candidate may make it clear no endorsement is warranted.
*The organization may want to limit endorsements so as to “target” limited resources.
*The candidate may have an obvious bias against the organization’s goals and values.
For both the organization and the candidate, the endorsement process is often a challenge to navigate, especially in a small community. Often the general public observes their candidate/friend as a “good person” but they don’t see or understand the importance of the criteria listed above. But for most organizations, it’s not enough to be just a good guy. The lack of an endorsement does not question what is in a candidate’s heart but does question their viability as a candidate, and whether or not their core values and historical actions align with that of the organization.