Do Newspaper Endorsements Matter?

Experts, voters doubt it

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 29, 2012 9:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – Both presidential candidates are racking up endorsements as the election draws near, prompting the AP to wonder whether editorial boards' selections do much to sway voters these days. Says a political scientist: "The short answer is no." Still, "at this stage in the campaign, you're looking for every edge you can get, even if it's a microscopic edge," he notes. A swing voter in Florida—where the Orlando Sentinel backs Mitt Romney and the Tampa Bay Times supports President Obama—doubts the endorsements have "any influence at all."

When papers already have a history of leaning left or right, "I discount it, because I think, `Of course they're endorsing that candidate," she says. But "if a traditionally left paper endorses Romney, or a traditionally right paper endorses Obama, that matters, because people go, 'Huh, that's curious,'" says a Republican strategist. Case in point: The Des Moines Register's support for Romney. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which isn't endorsing a candidate, calls such endorsements "a relic of a time when every town had more than one newspaper." But plenty of newspapers are still making their cases: Yesterday saw 10 endorsements for Obama, including swing-state rags the Detroit Free Press and Toledo Blade, and 14 for Romney, among them the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Florida Times-Union.

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at the Celina Fieldhouse in Celina, Ohio, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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