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.
Democratic President Barack Obama, for instance, doesn’t get much of a boost when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gives him her endorsement. However, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, praised Obama recently for his swift and decisive action in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it might very well have carried a lot of weight with independents.
In the 6th District, most of the endorsements have been of the expected variety. When U.S. Congressman Barney Frank — the most prominent gay member of Congress — endorsed Tierney, it was interesting, considering that Tisei is poised to be the first openly gay Republican non-incumbent elected to Congress. But no one really thought that Frank, a staunch Democratic partisan, was going to endorse a Republican.
There is one endorsement that fits the bill of unexpected and may sway some on-the-fence voters, Brown said.
“It is surprising that The Boston Globe endorsed Tisei,” he said. “If The Boston Globe, that liberal leftist paper, according to the mainstream media, comes out for a Republican, especially when Tierney is running ads comparing Tisei to Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, that is a gigantic (endorsement).”
John Tierney key endorsements Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Democrat Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt, Democrat Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon, independent Amesbury Mayor Thatcher Kezer, Democrat Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday, Democrat Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat Congressman Bill Keating, Democrat Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, Democrat Congressman John Olver, Democrat Congressman Richard Neal, Democrat Congressman Jim McGovern, Democrat Congressman Ed Markey, Democrat Congressman Michael Capuano, Democrat Congressman Stephen Lynch, Democrat American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Alliance for Retired Americans American Postal Workers -- Local 100 American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts Bay State Stone Wall Democrats The Boston Phoenix Boston Carmen's Union Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Gay and Lesbian Labor Activists Network Gloucester Daily Times Human Rights Campaign Humane Society IUE-CWA Local 201 Mass Organization of State Engineers and Scientists Massachusetts Teachers Association MoveOn.org National Abortion Rights Action League National Association of Social Workers National Organization for Women National Stonewall Democrats Neighbor to Neighbor Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts The Sierra Club AFL-CIO The Rainbow Times Veterans and Military Families for Progress Richard Tisei key endorsements National Federation of Independent Business U.S. Chamber of Commerce Former Gov. Bill Weld Former Gov. Paul Cellucci State Sen. Paul Casey The Boston Globe Boston Herald The Lowell Sun The Eagle-Tribune The Daily News of Newburyport The Salem News The Saugus Advocate Amesbury News Beverly Citizen Tri-Town Transcript (covering Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield) Danvers Herald Cape Ann Beacon (covering Essex, Gloucester, Manchester and Rockport) The Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle (covering Hamilton and Wenham) Ipswich Chronicle Marblehead Reporter Newburyport Current North Andover Citizen Reading Advocate Salem Gazette Saugus Advertiser Swampscott Reporter Wakefield Observer