With Super Tuesday returns coming in, Republican leaders are doing the same thing as everyone else — waiting to see if, or more likely, how thoroughly, businessman Donald Trump trounces the rest of the GOP field. And for those elected officials waiting to decide their endorsements, Tuesday's results could provide valuable data to help calculate if any path forward remains for the so-called establishment to stop Trump from winning the nomination.
Endorsements have typically been a reliable predictor for nominations, under the assumption that politicians want to go with a winner and help steer a candidate to the top. This year, however, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is leading in endorsements from fellow officeholders, but has yet to win a single state.
How Super Tuesday shakes out could shift the converstation, political analysts said. And in a race where endorsements have lacked clout so far, Trump — a brash outsider who has only recently gained some backers after being scorned or at best tolerated by the party — could be the sole candidate to pick up undecided Republican leaders.
"The more Trump wins, psychologically, the easier it is to bring him into this tent," said Ford O’Connell, a political analyst and Republican strategist who worked on the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign.
"It really depends on what happens today," O'Connell said. "Nothing in this cycle has gone according to script."