After a disappointing third place finish in New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman has decided to drop out of the race and endorse Mitt Romney. Huntsman will be endorsing Romney at an 11 a.m. event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. While the endorsement is a positive for Romney, the actually impact should be very small.
To begin with, endorsements don’t tend to change many voters’ minds in top ticket races. Huntsman also has almost no base of support that he could sway, which is why he is dropping out. The Real Clear Politics average of South Carolina polls had Huntsman at just 5.3 percent. Gallup’s national track poll had Huntsman at only 3 percent. Even if a large plurality of Huntsman’s meager vote now decides to back Romney, the effect at most would lift Romney only one or two percent over his rivals.
Perhaps more important for Romney is the impact this endorsement will have in the media. Romney holds a narrow lead in South Carolina with just five days until the vote takes place. Every one of these precious final days that the media spends time talking about good news for Romney means the media has less time to talk about attacks from, or good news about, one of his main rivals.
Huntsman’s endorsement will probably not change many votes, but it does help to promote the image that Romney is now inevitable, which is exactly the narrative the Romney campaign wants right now.