Why did Limbaugh and Beck Endorse Michele Bachmann?

Glenn Beck

At approximately 10:45 a.m. EST, on Tuesday, November 22, Glenn Beck announced his unofficial presidential endorsement in Michele Bachmann calling her “exceptional”. He also spoke highly of Rick Santorum during the same radio program. Shortly after this announcement at 12:40 p.m. EST, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh announced his official presidential endorsement in Bachmann as well.

When Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck speak, their followers listen. One would assume that such a public endorsement would act as a strong incentive for undecided listeners to support Bachmann. The real question, however, is why would two of the most powerful voices in conservative talk show radio endorse an individual whose campaign shows many signs of a decline?

Let’s dig into the data and take a look at Michele Bachmann as her data compares to a number of other presidential candidates who Limbaugh and Beck could have endorsed.

Michele Bachmann’s 2011 Intrade Performance
(Currently trading reflects a 1.2% chance to be Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012)

Mitt Romney’s 2011 Intrade Performance
(Currently trading reflects a 67.6% chance to be Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012)

Newt Gingrich’s 2011 Intrade Performance
(Currently trading reflects a 14.6% chance to be Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012)

According to current Intrade data, candidates have the following probability of becoming the republican presidential nominee.

  1. Mitt Romney | 67.6% 
  2. Newt Gingrich 14.6% 
  3. Jon Huntsman | 5.9% 
  4. Ron Paul | 5.5% 
  5. Rick Perry | 2.4%
  6. Herman Cain | 1.9%
  7. Michele Bachmann 1.2% 
  8. Rick Santorum  0.9%  

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain appear to have been able to retain a loyal following of voters who are decided and unlikely to switch candidates. This is not as apparent with other candidates although each candidate certainly has loyal followers. If you look at Intrade data overtime, you can see that a rising and falling of the public’s confidence in many of the presidential candidates.  Take Michele Bachmann’s Intrade data during 2011 for instance; in looking at the above chart, you will notice Bachmann hit a high peak in July which was followed by a sharp decline. She now sits in a dismal seventh place among contending nominees.

The Shift of Undecided Voters

Where did these supporters flock to? We know the U.S. has a large population of undecided voters. From much of the data we’ve observed, it appears as though many of Bachmann’s fair-weather supporters shifted their support from her to Perry in August through September, and from Perry to Cain in October through the early part of November. Most recently, many of them appear to be shifting their support from Cain to Newt Gingrich. One can literally see this shift by looking at closing prices on Intrade over the last five months.

Herman Cain’s 2011 Intrade Performance

Rick Perry’s 2011 Intrade Performance

This shifting effect is also seen in poll numbers, the rate Facebook users follow these candidates, the level of positive dialog on Twitter for each candidate, and in many other online outlets. Many of these undecided voters who are shifting alliances from one candidate to another may be a part of the non-Mitt Romney crowd. As seen in the data, this crowd gets excited about a candidate but will shift its support to a new candidate with the ebb and flow of political candidates’ campaign performances.

The State of the GOP Race

Rush Limbaugh

Newt Gingrich is on the rise. His Intrade price is rapidly closing in on Mitt Romney’s making him a strong contender for the 2012 republican nomination. As displayed in said data, many of Newt Gingrich’s new supporters are migrants from the Bachmann, Perry, and Cain camps. This large group of undecided voters is powerful and can potentially push Gingrich’s campaign forward as it competes with that of Romney’s and others. At this point in the game, endorsements by powerful radio talk show hosts might not be enough to bring Michele Bachmann back to her former front-runner status, but such endorsements are certainly powerful enough to sway many listeners and newly-minted Gingrich supporters away from the former Speaker of the House. They are also powerful enough to send many voters over to Bachmann’s campaign. If this shift indeed happens, the campaign that would benefit most from these recent endorsements may be Romney’s rather than Bachmann’s.

So why did Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck express their support for Michele Bachmann on November 22?

You decide.

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