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Three months from now, you will wake up to news that Sarah Palin endorsed Rick Perry for president (or possibly that Rick Perry endorsed Sarah Palin for president) and you will be told this is huge news. You will then turn on a cable channel and find someone (possibly me) arguing that this is, in fact, a significant coup. But it probably won’t be. That’s because endorsements usually don’t matter. At least, not any more.

Once upon a time, voters were loyal to political parties and bosses; their endorsements meant a great deal. It was a simpler time. But those days have passed. Today, political graveyards are littered with the corpses of politicians who had more endorsements than their opponents. “The endorsement mattered more when mass communication was weaker,” explains GOP strategist Dan Hazelwood, “because it was the only brand identifier people heard.”

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