Steve Bannon, the fired presidential adviser and alt-right sympathizer, has declared war on incumbent Republican Senators and assembled a motley crew of challengers. But just how potent is his endorsement? According to a recent Firehouse Strategies/0ptimus study of 2018 swing states (Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio), Mr. Bannon’s support has a negative effect.
Only 10% of swing state voters say a Bannon endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a candidate, while a whopping 37.2% said it would make them less likely. Another 25.5% said it would not make a difference. The media may hype Mr. Bannon’s role, but 27.3% of these likely voters said they do not even know who he is.
President Donald Trump’s support also has a negative effect. Almost half (43.2%) of swing state voters said his endorsement would make them less likely to support a candidate, while 33.1% said it would make them more likely to support a candidate, and 23.7% said it would not make a difference.
What is the takeaway, then? As the September Senate run-off election in Alabama and Tuesday’s election in Virginia showed, the 2018 political landscape will be unpredictable and will vary from state to state. For Republican candidates to navigate the waters and emerge victorious, they must not depend on endorsements. They are nice and better to have than not, but candidates cannot rely on anyone else’s endorsements to carry them over the finish line. Republican candidates will win in 2018 by running strong campaigns and delivering winning messages that show voters they are serious leaders, committed to making good on their promises that voters perceive are important, and likely to result in a more prosperous, fair and safe country.