Sarah Palin Endorses Donald Trump

January 19th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Just 13 days before the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received a coveted conservative endorsement from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Trump Palin

Palin, who rallied Tea Party voters as a vice presidential nominee in the 2008 presidential election, announced her endorsement at a campaign event in Iowa on Tuesday. She's known to be an effective fundraiser — and the announcement could provide Trump with a "potentially significant boost" ahead of the state's February 1 caucuses, The New York Times reports.

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"I am greatly honored to receive Sarah’s endorsement," Trump said in a statement. "She is a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support."

Why is Palin important? And why now?

In the endorsement, Palin reportedly praised Trump's leadership skills "and unparalleled ability to speak the truth and produce real results."

With the caucuses just weeks away and the presidential race heating up, the timing of the statement appears deliberate. Trump's closest opponent in the polls, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has been gaining on the front-runner in recent weeks; Palin's support for Trump could help the candidate secure a larger share of the Tea Party vote, possibly threatening to take voters away from Cruz in the process.

But not everybody is convinced that the endorsement will help Trump all that much.

"A 2012 poll from The Post and Pew Research found that a Palin endorsement that year wouldn't have made a difference for 60 percent of voters — including 61 percent of Republicans," The Washington Post reported. "But it's hard to believe that for the audience Trump wants to target — hard-right Iowans — Palin's endorsement would hurt him any."

It's not a particularly surprising endorsement, of course. As FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver pointed out, Trump and Palin share many similar political policy positions.

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For what it's worth, the endorsement represents a turning point in Trump's presidential campaign. It's his highest-profile backing yet. What it means in terms of his appeal with Iowa caucus goers, however, remains to be seen.