Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) said he endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid on “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” making him the 28th out of 44 sitting Democratic senators (64%) to have endorsed the former secretary of state, according to a survey by The Hill newspaper.
The Hill also notes that 60 out of 188 Democratic House members have backed her (32%).
To put these numbers into perspective, by early 2008, Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign had won endorsements from 10 sitting Dem senators, 67 House members, and eight governors.
Political scientists believe that endorsements by elected officials are the best predictor whether there will be a competitive presidential primary or not.
- By March 2000, George W. Bush had endorsements from a whopping 41 GOP senators, 175 House member and 27 governors – so more than half of the party’s elected officials. And, of course, outside of his stumble in New Hampshire, Bush easily won the Republican Party’s nomination that year.
- In contrast, by early 2008, Hillary Clinton won endorsements from 10 Democratic senators, 67 House members and eight governors. Those were more endorsements than Barack Obama had, but Clinton’s haul represented less than half of the party. Translation: The entire party wasn’t unified around her.
- And by March 2012, Mitt Romney had endorsements from 15 GOP senators, 65 House members and nine governors – again, less than half of the party. Romney ultimately won the Republican Party’s nomination. But it wasn’t easy for him, even against underfunded and undermanned opposition.