Aside from money, the time-tested way to try to influence the outcome of an election is an old-fashioned endorsement.
Rep. John Tierney and Richard Tisei have gotten their share this election, and most have been unsurprising.
Tierney has received support from the entire Massachusetts delegation of U.S. House members — all Democrats — as well as the mayors in Beverly, Salem, Peabody, Amesbury and Newburyport — all Democrats, except Bill Scanlon of Beverly, an independent.
Tisei has received endorsements from former Republican governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci, as well as Paul Casey, a former Democratic state representative from Winchester, who also endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.
Tierney has a slew of unions behind him, in addition to environmental groups (the Sierra Club), the National Organization for Women, the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, The Humane Society and several left-leaning groups.
Tisei has received backing from business groups, including the right-of-center U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business.
Perhaps more interestingly, Tisei has broad support from area newspapers, receiving 22 endorsements, including from The Salem News, while Tierney got the nod from only three publications — the Gloucester Daily Times, The Boston Phoenix and The Rainbow Times in Boston.
But does any of this really make a difference?
“Endorsements absolutely do matter,” said Rob Brown, a professor of communications at Salem State University. “There’s something called the third-party principle: It’s not what you say about yourself, it’s what a credible third-party person says about you that matters.”
Endorsements aren’t all created equal, however. Context is everything, Brown said.
“It depends on the situation and what people’s common sense tells them; anything against expectation will be very credible,” he said.