Can Endorsements Send Obama to the White House?

Following Tuesday's primaries, some might think that the impact of endorsements is overrated; in Massachusetts, Senator Obama had the support of the State's senators and its governor, yet still lost. But this impression might be misleading.

Senator Obama has been in a tight competition with Senator Clinton, a contender who enjoys not only her husband, ex-president Clinton's support, but also long-time ties to the Democratic Party. However, since scoring some high profile endorsements, such as Ted and Caroline Kennedy's, he has risen in the polls, money has been pouring into his campaign, and he is receiving a larger number of delegates than expected.

Endorsements by two other people would greatly improve Obama's position among democrats who are experiencing a contagious divide in the party: Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore.

Pelosi's support of a candidate might signify which would work best with Congress if they made it to the White House. Meanwhile, Gore's support would acknowledge 'an opportunity to truly change the way of doing business in Washington.' Both Pelosi and Gore have made noteworthy contributions in the past two years, and their support could translate into a significant move towards a candidate within the Democratic Party as well as general public opinion.

It's true that the Speaker, who has remained neutral in the presidential race, will chair the Democratic convention and it would thus be inappropriate for her to endorse one of the candidates, albeit Congressman George Miller of California did endorse Obama. Although Miller's endorsement of Obama was apparently made independent of the Speaker, he is Pelosi's top advisor and would not take such action without her implied consent. 'This is perhaps the closest thing to getting a Nancy Pelosi endorsement as you can without actually getting it. Miller is incredibly close with her politically.'

A trend might be emerging among democrats to the effect that Obama is the candidate who can rally the party and independents behind him in the general elections.

"The fact that Obama and Gore have been speaking regularly, about every two weeks or so" might be a signal that "[Gore] must have pondered how it would feel to play kingmaker and shore up someone else's path to the White House."

Endorsements can still play a role; depending on the "who"s and "how"s, a game in which Obama seems to have the upper hand.