Stay tuned for my report (hopefully a liveblog) on Terry Branstad at the Hamburg Inn. While you wait:
Chris Cilizza at the Washington Posts gets all meta on the topic of endorsements and ranks them in a hierarchy (though not in full Top Ten List format. He drops a couple of Iowa-centric examples:
The Celebrity Endorsement: Chuck Norris for Mike Huckabee in 2008. The Newspaper Endorsement: Des Moines Register for John Edwards in 2004.
But Cilizza leaves out a couple types:
The organizational endorsement. Think SEIU in a Democratic primary or Club For Growth on the GOP side. Mileage may vary depending on the organization, but the good ones should rank high in the hierarchy because they bring dollars and foot soldiers. They also provide valuable cues to voters.
The cross-bench endorsement: open support from a prominent member of the other party. The chattering classes love this. Of course, one of the classics is DINO Zell Miller backing Bush in 2004, and you know you're gonna see it:
The value of the cross-bench endorsement depends on the credibility of the endorser with leaning or pure independent voters. Dems got the better of this in 2008. Joe Lieberman had already made his break with Democrats, so his McCain support didn't matter much with soft Democratic voters. But Colin Powell (and local example Jim Leach) had a lot of credibility with moderate Republicans.
The endorsement that needs to be denounced. Or rejected. Or denounced and rejected. The prior example is Farrakhan; for Republicans think David Duke. Cilizza hints at it with the Pariah Endorsement ("John Edwards endorsing anyone"), but there's a difference between something that can be ignored and something that's an active negative requiring damage control.
The crazy blogger endorsement. Hey, it put Howard Dean on the map. I'll be testing this theory soon; stay tuned.