Congresswoman Kristi Noem had endorsed Marco Rubio for president several weeks back. But, how important is that endorsement to his winning the presidency?
One theory is that it could make all the difference in the world.
Sen. Marco Rubio has occupied an odd place in the GOP race all year: Never the front-runner, but always — in theory, on paper, hypothetically — on the verge of breaking out.
On Tuesday, Rubio once again showed signs of imminent liftoff after snagging one of the biggest endorsements in the race so far in Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.
Gowdy, the high-profile chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, is the increasingly rare politician who’s popular in both conservative and establishment circles. He easily could have succeeded John Boehner as House speaker had he chose to run.
Rubio has good reason to think his plan might work. The most prominent political science theory today is that party elites tend to pick the eventual nominee over the course of an “invisible primary” that takes place in the months and years before voters head to the polls, at which point rank-and-file partisans usually fall in line behind their choice.
So how’s Rubio been doing on that front? Sure enough, he’s made gains as rivals like Bush and Scott Walker have fallen. Bush took an early lead in endorsements from top donors and federal lawmakers that he still holds, but Rubio has racked up more support from both in the last three months than anyone else in the race. Among the big names: Rising stars Cory Gardner and Steve Daines in the Senate, well-known figures like Kristi Noem, Darrell Issa, and Mia Love in the House, and major party funders like billionaire Paul Singer.
All this is good news for Rubio, who surely has more names ready to roll out before voting begins, but it’s still a long way off from a tipping point.
Could Kristi be helping to coalesce the party around the man who might be our nation’s next president?