Just as Marco Rubio was exceeding expectations in last night’s Iowa caucuses, news began leaking out that a major endorsement was on the way: Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.
It is, of course, debatable how much endorsements from political figures matter anymore — especially in an election year giving such a premium to anti-establishment “outsiderness.”
And yet, with this endorsement, Rubio has locked up two of the four nationally known Palmetto State politicians — Scott and Representative Trey Gowdy — and has decent shot at picking up the support of the other two (Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham) if things go his way in next week’s New Hampshire primary.
Graham has endorsed Jeb Bush — going so far as to tell MSNBC, “Don’t count out Jeb just yet” this morning — but it’s possible that things could change if Bush performs particularly poorly in New Hampshire and drops out (it’s unlikely he would endorse Ted Cruz).
As for Haley, no politician with national ambitions is going to pick a horse currently floating in the low single digits. If Rubio comes out of New Hampshire with a head of steam, Haley could pull the trigger.
In a close race, those kinds of home-state endorsements could be the difference in the February 27 South Carolina primary.