Presidential primary endorsements are a funny kind of thing. They probably don’t “matter” in the way that a movie like The Ides of March implies. Chris Christie endorsing Mitt Romney won’t “deliver” any votes or delegates to the former Massachusetts governor. And yet the endorsement of a presidential candidate by a well-known politician is a political event worth paying attention to.
That’s because presidential primaries are much more an elite-driven affair than a mass market one. And while of course it’s possible that Christie is just making some kind of huge error here, one has to assume that Christie’s pick in part reflects the views of a wider circle of Christie admirers and backers, the kind of people who were urging him to run. You see a sign here that there’s a cohort of non-southern GOP elected officials and financiers who have concerns about Rick Perry’s electability and who think Mitt Romney is conservative enough for them. The South has, of course, a lot of weight in a GOP primary. But not enough to win the day if Perry can’t convince conservative activists outside of it that he can carry the day elsewhere.