Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, endorses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally at the Iowa State University, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Implications of Donald Trump’s Sarah Palin Endorsement

It is hard to imagine there is anyone who has been sitting on the sidelines, undecided about Donald Trump, who has been waiting for Sarah Palin to endorse him. Sure, there are a few, but really not that many.

Just ask yourself this: who has Trump been unable to get off the couch that will suddenly stand up and go vote for Donald Trump because of Sarah Palin? I just do not see Sarah Palin’s endorsement bringing a large number of people to Trump’s side now.

This is a future play, not an Iowa play.

Sarah Palin gives Trump legitimacy. She is a former Republican governor and vice presidential nominee endorsing the front runner few take seriously just as so few took her seriously. Right now, every campaign and editorialist in America is piling on Ted Cruz. Palin is not an endorsement to get new people to vote for Trump. She is an endorsement to get Ted Cruz’s voters to go to Trump after Iowa.

Cruz, most strategists would agree, gives up his path to victory if he does not win Iowa. Cruz’s team may disagree, but if Trump wins Iowa, exactly how is Cruz stopping Trump in South Carolina or Georgia or Tennessee?

The Trump team is smart enough to know that most of the establishment folks now making kissy face with Trump would gut him in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. If Trump can do their bidding and end Cruz in Iowa, Palin can give Trump legitimacy with some Cruz voters.

The other thing the Palin endorsement does is draw a clearer line between conservatives and reactionaries on the right. Cruz is now running as the principled conservative and Trump as the reactionary conservative. Sarah Palin has long spoken up for that part of the party and this expands Trump’s bona fides.

But as for Iowa, I do not see Sarah Palin’s endorsement driving more people to the polls for Trump who are not already planning on going. It also sends a signal to Ted Cruz he needs to be working the ground relentlessly. His campaign has the best ground game in Iowa and is better able to pick up small shifts on the ground. They’ll know they need to respond and we’ll know depending on any scheduling changes to Ted Cruz’s schedule.

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Erick Erickson

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