I’ve made up my mind about which presidential candidate I’m going to vote for in November. I’ve done my research, checked the facts and made what I consider an informed choice. Now, if I share the name and give my solid endorsement, will you vote for him too?

I didn’t think so.

Which begs the question, “Do endorsements of candidates BY anybody make any difference TO anybody?” According to your answer about mine, I’d guess not. Seems we’re in good company.

A Pew Research poll has looked into the issue, using supposed GOP “stars” endorsements in the current Republican presidential primary. Suppose George Bush, Sarah Palin and John McCain all said you should “vote for so-and-so.” In Bush’s case, 59% of respondents said his endorsement meant nothing to them and 11% said they’d go the other way! In Palin’s case, if she blessed a candidate, 60% said “So what?” Another 15% would be less likely to vote for that person. Same for McCain.

I ignore political endorsements as an outgrowth of some very bad dating experiences many, many years ago. In those times, friends would often recommend one of their friends – or a friend-of-a-friend – to date. It only took an outing or two to decide what appealed to them often created little or no interest in me. Not because the young lady was not a kind, pleasant, fun person. Maybe she was. Just not MY idea of a “kind, pleasant, fun person.”

Later in life, other instances of recommendations proved equally unreliable. Take movies, for instance. I’m a fan. Not of any one particular “star” but just the movie-going experience itself. Friends would often recommend – or not recommend – a film. They’d do so with what seemed to me to be good intentions. “See this one.” “Don’t waste your money on that one.” For some time, I thought they were doing so based on what they knew about me – about my likes and dislikes.

Not so, I eventually learned. Their “endorsements” or “non-endorsements” were usually based on their own tastes and not mine. So, unless we were very similarly inclined in most things, their entertainment value judgements were often different from my own. Lesson learned. Do your own research and make your own decision.

Restaurant recommendations – especially Italian – proved equally unreliable. What one friend thought was “the best Italian food this side of Genoa” sometimes seemed to me as if his Genoa must have been in Utah. More often than not, the endorsement wasn’t valuable and sometimes not edible.

I’m not opposed to candidate endorsements. But neither am I a follower of same. An important endorser for major politicians is labor unions which usually support Democrats. Not always. Just usually. Still, even then, union leaders pick a candidate but later the political floor can be littered with bodies of former favorites who found rank-and-file not always as unified as was once the case.

National Chamber of Commerce and National Rifle Association political picks, for example, are most often Republican with the same mixed result. Not the unanimity of membership they once represented.

So, if you chose not to follow someone else’s recommendations in your love life, movies, Italian food or politics, what’s a guy to do? Well, that’s sort of my point. I used to try to get to know a girl before I asked her out. I went to movies and made my own decision. I learned what good Italian food was and how to find it.

When it comes to picking a political candidate to support, it’s pretty much the same. Do your own research. Read. Listen. Compare. Check ‘em out. Become the informed voter that says to a friend, “I’m voting for `So-And-So’ and you should, too.” They may be like me and think your pick is not for them. But you’ll have cast an informed ballot. And that’s the important thing.

If, like finding a good Italian restaurant, you still wind up with political indigestion, well, next time do better research. It’ll be good for your digestive tract. And for the country.

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