Who are big Republican names backing?

Reports: Trump to Receive Cong. Endorsements
Reports: Trump to Receive Cong. Endorsements

Flaxen-haired billionaire Donald J. Trump has now walked away victorious from three out of the four primary events so far and is currently leading almost every form of popular poll. And even more interestingly, he has been able to achieve such terrifying gains without the support of his party behind him. It wasn't until Wednesday, the morning after winning the Nevada caucus, that he even received his first two endorsements from sitting Republican politicians.

While big-name GOP support is often seen as critical the closer we get to crunch time, his unanticipated success suggests his outsider status might be exactly what his fan base is looking for.

Polling site FiveThirtyEight's tally of endorsements shows that Rubio is leading the pack inthe nation's most politically influential popularity contest. Though he has been struggling to top Ted Cruz in the polls, Washington insiders have been pledging their support for the Florida senator more willingly than for anyone else. The Iowa caucus has traditionally served as an important turning point for endorsements, and this year's was big for Rubio. After coming in a close third place, Rubio's chances of obtaining the nomination were perceived as having nearly doubled, and support from the party bigwigs has come flooding in.

How political elites use Iowa to make endorsements

Rubio's bandwagon has become increasingly crowded since Iowa, after which he doubled his number of endorsements. Cruz, on the other hand, has slid even further behind, though he did receive an important nod from Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday morning, after narrowly losing Nevada to Rubio.

While Trump has the support of former Alaska governor/reality TV personality Sarah Palin (for whatever that's worth) and a university president now hated by his student body, he has only been able attract two state representatives. Which is pretty sad, considering how close that puts him to the laggardly Ben Carson, who has one endorsement from U.S. Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland. And that endorsment is pretty baffling, with Harris having waited until after Carson's abysmal eighth place ranking at the New Hampshire primary to put his "heft" behind Carson's campaign. But does it even matter at this point? Trump has proven himself to be an army of one, subverting the traditional path to primaries success.

And while endorsements can mean a great deal in race for the nomination, it's a delegate game at the end of the day. At this point, Trump is leading with 89 while Cruz and Rubio are trailing with 17 apiece. That suggests either that we'll have a nominee running without the backing of the power-brokers in his party—or that once Trump clinches the nomination, the GOP big shots will forget their reservations and get behind him to defeat the real, Democratic enemy.

Related: See Donald Trump through the years:

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