Fun with Newspaper Endorsements

Media / journalism, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Electoral Map if Newspapers Voted

Electoral Map if Newspapers Voted

Just about everyone discounts the value of newspaper endorsements for Presidential candidates.  The candidates get so much new coverage and scutiny that no one needs a push at the eleventh hour to help them decide how to vote.  Still, endorsements get a lot of coverage if only because they infuriate one group and allow another to bask in the glow of righteousness knowing their paper sees their wisdom.  The good folks at Editor and Publisher have been keeping a running tally of the endorsements this year and while they might not provide a lot of insight into the election, they are great fun to look at. 

Only the most unusual get a lot of air time outside their home market.  You might have heard that the Chicago Tribune is endorsing a Democrat for the first time in their history.  Maybe you got the update over the weekend that the Anchorage Daily News is endorsing Obama over the home town governor as well.  But did you know that both of the two papers that have endorsed candidates in Alabama endorsed Obama?  How about the fact that McCain has done well in endorsements in the Massachusetts getting three out of eight nods. Louisiana and Indiana, all Obama. Virginia, all McCain all the time!! OK, not really. The Fall Church News-Press endorsed Obama, countering the other eight papers including the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Daily Press (Newport News) endorsing McCain. Of course, not all papers have endorsed and the picture may change as the election grows nearer, but it’s pretty clear that local newspapers don’t always line up with their constituents. Flippers are also really interesting. Of the 289 papers listed in today’s summary, 38 Obama endorsers went for Bush four years ago. Not surprising given the mode of the country and the change in focus from security and war to the economy. Less frequent, but more interesting are the four that went the other way.  The Bradenton Herald (Circ: 48,618), The Jackson Sun (Circ: 32,121), The Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Circ: 53,368) and the Daily Press (Circ: 91,508) all endorsed McCain this year after supporting Kerry in 2004.

I didn’t track down all 42 switchers, but of the ones I did look at, there are some common threads. Many of those who switched to Obama site his “transformational” nature or question McCain’s judgment, especially in who he chose for his running mate. Take this one:

The Wisconsin State Journal endorses the dynamic and youthful senator from Illinois for president. Far more than his opponent, Obama represents a new direction. He has shown he can inspire and lead people to action. And his relatively short time in corrupt, self-absorbed, terribly-failed Washington, D.C., may actually be a key strength. Obama is not stuck in the status quo of the Capitol crowd or its long-failed Congress.

Can’t you just feel the tingle up your leg!  How about this one from the Express-Times of Easton, PA

This type of campaigning should be a source of national embarrassment, especially in times of crisis. We can only hope that voters recognize it as such — and return their focus to the issues and leadership potential of Obama and John McCain.

But frankly, it’s hard to get to a place where the campaign noise doesn’t seep in and interfere with clear thinking. In its deliberations, The Express-Times editorial board found two things that should be marginal concerns kept coming up as make-or-break issues. And they added plenty of heat to the discussion.

— McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for a running mate seems as shockingly amateurish and ill-advised today as it was in August. Nothing that has happened on the campaign trail has changed this.

— The spirit of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove seems to be the energizing force of the McCain/Palin Express, and it’s the opposite of straight talk. Slimy campaigning is headed for another all-time high. While the nation is seeking guidance on economic and national defense problems of momentous proportion, this election seems to hinge on the guilt-by-association grenades that Republicans keep lobbing up, hoping to bring down Obama.

Those switching to McCain from Kerry often sited security concerns and McCain’s war experience.  The Bradenton Herald (Florida) endorsed McCain saying

With solid domestic policies and vital experience in foreign affairs, McCain is the right Republican candidate at the right time in history. Above all else, this nation needs a strong leader, one who can be trusted. John McCain is that kind of leader.

But before that they wrote

We appreciate that McCain campaigns on the issues, not demagoguery, and that he has a keen sense of bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems. He steers clear of polarizing statements and demonizing opponents. For instance, we can’t see the Arizona senator participating in any kind of shameful and specious Swift Boat attack that became a centerpiece of the 2004 Bush campaign. Not with McCain’s honesty and integrity.

Sorry, no answer comes to mind for that statement.  I found the text of this endorsement on the McCain website, but the link to the Herald was broken and a search of their site yielded nothing.  Maybe that last paragraph was too much for their server.  The Daily Press (Newport News, VA) echoed the security theme.

John McCain understands this, just as he understands that America has dangerous enemies who will require more than Obama’s faith in diplomacy to keep at bay. It will require an experienced statesman and military veteran who understands Teddy Roosevelt’s adage to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”

But their editorial was a fun read for lines like:

Obama’s candidacy is a proud moment for America because of what it says about our ability to put our most grievous racial polarization behind us. But Obama lacks the experience we should demand from the world’s most powerful man, and his fundamental political beliefs are better suited to a more statist European nation such as France than America’s energetic capitalist culture, which demands individual responsibility as the price for maximizing our potential as humans.

Black is OK but he’s French!  I knew that Muslim stuff was a sham!

But Obama’s rating as the most liberal member of the Senate — or one of the most liberal, depending on who’s doing the rankings — coupled with his vote tally in the Illinois Senate, and his policy statements, make it clear that this is a man who believes that we need an interventionist government that knows what is best for us, and will dip into our wallets to achieve its ambitious aims, whether they have to do with fixing the nation’s uneven access to health care or rescuing failing corporations.


Obama’s domestic plans will be costly to implement, and he assures us that only the wealthy and businesses will be required to pay. But that is fool’s gold that runs afoul of history and economic common sense: Government programs have a way of creeping down the ladder to affect all of us. One reason residents in Hampton and Newport News are facing the bite of increasing property taxes, for example, is the impact of unfunded mandates that require state and local government to pay for the federal government’s brilliant ideas.

I thought trickle down was good!  And didn’t those unfunded mandates come from… Bush?

Conversely, lower tax rates under Presidents John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George Bush had the effect of increasing net government receipts and strengthening our economy — and increasing the share of taxes paid by the wealthy.

Actually, they didn’t… and Obama’s proposed tax rate is less than Reagan’s.

If you have the time, there are a lot more out there for you.  Explore on your own.  We only get to do this every four years and you never know who’s looking to one up the Daily Press.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. nimh  •  Oct 28, 2008 @6:05 am

    Fascinating stuff. You gotta wonder how The Daily Press, with views like those, ever decided to endorse John Kerry.