A Quick Question on Newspaper Endorsements

By Alan Stewart Carl | Related entries in Discuss, Elections, Media

Has a newspaper’s endorsement ever affected your vote?

I couldn’t care less who my local paper endorses (The San Antonio Express-News went predictably for John McCain, in case you were dying to know). And, really, I couldn’t care less who any paper endorses.

It all seems so self important.

Thoughts?


This entry was posted on Monday, October 20th, 2008 and is filed under Discuss, Elections, Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

16 Responses to “A Quick Question on Newspaper Endorsements”

  1. mw Says:

    Newspaper endorsements have zero effect on my vote for major offices. However, here in SF, Ca – there is a dizzying array of local and state initiatives on every ballot, as well as a lot of down ballot candidates for – well – everything. The voter information pamphlet looks like a phone book. No joke. Anyway, I do rely on newspaper endorsements to help me navigate the initiatives and down ballot.

  2. NYkrinDC Says:

    I’d go one step further and say that Newspapers have no business endorsing any candidate for office. These organizations are supposed to be objective and fact based. I understand that these endorsements are done in opinion columns and editorials, but I’d rather the newspapers focus solely on presenting facts on each candidate, and then let everyone make their own decision, whatever that may be.

  3. bubbles Says:

    I think the importance is actually a relic from days-gone-by when newspapers were mainly just politically-driven. Look at any newspaper’s history, and almost every one had been founded for the purpose of supporting a particular party. The New York Times was founded as a Whig/Republican newspaper. The New York Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton. We’ve all heard of the newspaper wars between Hearst and Pulitzer…

    But today, we for some reason forget all this and assume that newspapers were founded to give the objective details about current events. Not true. USA Today might be an exception, because it’s fairly new. But any paper older than that probably had the sole purpose of energizing a local political party. And political endorsements was part of that game… I guess they just never abandoned the tradition as readers came to expect higher standards in objectivity. (not that they’re any more objective today than before… but they at least claim to be)

    All that endorsements were aimed at doing was to raise a candidate’s visibility… and newspapers in general sought to raise the visibility of a party in general. Now we have long-established parties and long-established newspapers. So when they endorse, we scratch our heads and say, “Well, that’s nice… let’s see what else is happening in the news.”

  4. ExiledIndependent Says:

    /agree with the above–newspaper endorsements are an odd relic of a bygone era. Strange that they’re still doing this. /shrug.

  5. Avinash_Tyagi Says:

    Endorsements are meant to win news cycles, and to stifle your opponent’s news.

  6. George Mauer Says:

    Nationally no, locally yes. Especially well thought out pieces in smaller local rags.

  7. Susanna Says:

    I agree with mw. Sometimes the newspaper’s endorsements can be helpful with local candidates. One of the local papers I read interviews all candidates to get a sense of who they are before endorsing, which is helpful to me because I don’t have time to get to meet all the candidates for every office.

    However, I think it depends how much you trust the editorial board who makes the endorsements. I consider the recommendations of one local paper, but ignore the other one.

  8. Alan Stewart Carl Says:

    MW — I’m lame. I actually read the voter pamphlet and make my decision on down ballot elections based on what I read. Although I have to admit to occassionally just not voting for the assistant to the deputy commissioner for ferret affairs.

  9. Tim in Wisconsin Says:

    Normally, I’d agree. However, in the case of the Chicago Tribune, which until this week had never endorsed a Democrat for president (the most recent non-Republican endorsed by the Tribune was Teddy Roosevelt when he ran for the Bull Moose Party), that is legitimate news .

    I guess the endorsement isn’t as big a deal as the trend in the endorsement. Any news organization that endorses Obama after endorsing Bush in 2004 will grab attention. Will it swing votes? It might swing a couple here or there. In some states, though, a couple is all one side needs.

  10. Kevin Says:

    I don’t vote based on the endorsements, but I like when they explain their reasons for the endorsements. Bearing in mind the general leanings of the publication’s editorial staff that can be educational.

    I also found it funny when the day after my wife and I talked about how McCain was screwing up his campaign the Detroit Free Press endorsed Obama and gave the same reasons we were talking about for why they were disappointed in the McCain campaign. It kind of reinforced that we weren’t imagining the ways that McCain seems to have changed since winning the nomination.

  11. michael reynolds Says:

    What? The San Antonio Express-News wants me to vote for McCain?

    My God! This changes everything.

  12. wj Says:

    ASC, I read the Voter Information Booklet, too. But in California we generally have a dozen or more propositions on the Ballot. The ones written by the legislature are typically worded so that at least a modicum of legal background is required to understand what they are actually going to do.

    But the ones which got on via an Initiative are worse. They cannot be understood even with a legal background — we have to wait to see what the courts decide they meant. In that situation, there are only two options for most of us, most of the time:
    1) vote NO on everything,
    2) look at the endorsement of whatever newspapers we can get, adjust for their known biases, and vote from there.

    Well, I could take a few years off to go thru law school, I suppose. But short of that, recommendations are going to be a factor for all the propositions. As for candidates, I glance at the endorsements to see WHY they are recommending one candidate or another. Again adjusting for the known biases of the recommender, it provides input, but not a guide, for deciding who to vote for.

  13. mw Says:

    “vote NO on everything…”-wj

    @wj
    Seems like an eminently reasonable approach.

    But now ASC has shamed me into thinking I have to be more conscientious with our California Voter Information Pamphlet Encyclopedia. So I have a new plan.

    First I am going to read 2 or 3 of the proponent and opponent statements for each and every initiative for both The City and The State.

    Then and only then I am going to vote no on everything.

    um… except for proposition K.

  14. RPC Says:

    I tend not to trust newspaper endorsements. To me they are faceless meaning that they could be endorsing a candidate for any number of reasons other than their qualifications.

    I tend to put more stock in endorsements from people whose views I know and respect. For example, claims of Obama being a socialist stop making much of an impact with me when one of the world’s richest men (Warren Buffet) endorses him.

  15. wj Says:

    Hey, mw: Don’t forget a YES on Prop 11, too! Getting redistricting out of the hands of the legislators may be the best chance we have of getting both parties back somewhere near the center.

  16. mw Says:

    @wj
    Definitely. Last time the governator tried to get this through there was an enormous amount of advertising mounted against it. I am not seeing anything right now. Maybe they are planning on a late surge.

    I had to laugh reading the opposition statement in the pamphlet – “…this gives the final say for “redistricting” to a commission that was never elected!!!!”

    Yeah. That is the whole idea.

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