Analyzing the Newspaper Endorsements

This will probably be my last substantial “dump” of newspaper endorsements for the presidential election of 2012. Today I’ve linked to and excerpted endorsements from the following newspapers:

The Joplin Globe (Romney)
The Los Angeles Daily News (Romney)
The Shreveport Times (Romney)
Florida Today (Romney)
The Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Illinois (Romney)
The Intelligencer of suburban Philadelphia (Romney)
The Quad City Times serving northwest Illinois (Romney)
The Des Moines Register (Romney)
The Hartford Courant (Obama)
The New York Times (Obama)
The Chicago Tribune (Obama)

With the exception of the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, these are all newspapers that have changed the party of the candidate being endorsed since 2008, either from Obama to Romney or from McCain to Obama.

By my reckoning 72 publications have endorsed President Obama’s re-election while 71 have endorsed the election of Gov. Romney. Of these only five have switched from McCain to Obama while 25 publications that endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 now endorse Mitt Romney. That’s a dramatic shift from 2008 when newspaper endorsements enormously favored Barack Obama’s election.

There is clearly broad-ranging dissatisfaction with Barack Obama’s presidency. It can’t be neatly summarized by region, city vs. country, urban vs. suburban or any other simple bifurcation. Nearly all major circulation big city dailies endorsed Obama in 2008. Although most endorsed him again this year, some did not. This rejection is seen in all parts of the country; there is no east vs. west, north vs. south, or Union vs. Confederacy cleavage in any simple fashion. To be sure more newspapers in southern and western states endorsed Romney and, indeed, switched from Obama to Romney. But by no means is that exclusively the case.

The reasons for the dissatisfaction most frequently mentioned are the state of the economy and the president’s apparent lack of ability to reach across the aisle to get Republicans to support his proposals. Assign the blame where you will but the buck stops with the president.

Just how deep that dissatisfaction is will be seen on election day.

11 comments… add one
  • I’ll just repeat something I noted the other day: Presidents that win re-election almost always win more electoral votes the second time around. Even Grover Cleveland won more the second time he won office than the first time, even though he lost an election in between the two. The only exception to that has been Woodrow Wilson. Obama is not going to beat his electoral total from last time, so it seems extremely unlikely that he’s going to win re-election.

  • jan Link

    The LA Daily News endorsement of Romney is surprising, considering the liberal nature of the area it is covering.

    This election is downright ‘weird!’ There are red flags all over, signs and symptoms of public dissatisfaction with the current presidential policies. But, the polls remain close and challenging for both candidates. You would think that there would be more breakaway numbers at this point!

    And, now we have the storm of all storms bearing down on one of the most populated areas of the country, including states considered swing states. To top it off, the Labor Dept, and maybe the Census Bureau may just skip their reporting until after the election.

  • PD Shaw Link

    The Springfield, IL newspaper is declining to endorse a POTUS for the first time; they endorsed Obama last time. The reason given is that the candidates did not campaign in Illinois and they have no particular insight, which has been true for some time.

  • To top it off, the Labor Dept, and maybe the Census Bureau may just skip their reporting until after the election.

    How conveeeeeeeennnnnnient.

    [T]hey have no particular insight, which has been true for some time.

    I see what you did there, LOL!

  • I’ve looked at the matter of electoral college results a little more closely. Here’s the short version:

    Sixteen men have successfully run for re-election after having previously won the Presidency. (This awkward phrasing is meant to avoid the cases of TR, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman and LBJ, the other four men to run successfully for re-election. But they had all gained office by elevation to the Presidency following the death of a predecessor.)

    Fifteen of those sixteen got more electoral votes the second time they won. Woodrow Wilson remains the only President to not get more electoral votes for his second full term. James Madison got more votes in 1812 than in 1808, but that was because of a growing electoral map. He actually received a smaller share of available votes the second time around.

    So only two full-term Presidents have done worse in their successful re-election bids than they did the first time. And Madison suffered from the outbreak of the War of 1812 a few months before the election, and Wilson had the great benefit in his first election of running against a Republican Party that was at war with itself.

    I haven’t looked at popular vote totals because popular vote totals are not as easy to get at as electoral totals. I am using electoral votes as a reasonable proxy. For one thing, voter eligibility changes have had large impacts on vote totals from one election to the next. For another, the population has generally grown from election to election. But voter participation also changes from election to election. Looking at those totals would take more time and analysis and likely won’t tell me anything that the electoral totals don’t tell us.

  • jan Link


    Those historical election references do not bode well for Obama’s reelection, as he has become increasingly unpopular over his 4-year term. However, I don’t recall a time where the news media was so overtly in the bag for an incumbent, willing to dismiss anything and everything that could possible spray a negative mist over ‘their’ man. With this in mind, along with the mother-of-all natural events occurring right before Nov. 6th, Obama could just slide on by.

    However, even if Obama manages to be reelected, I think Benghazi will emerge, with full details, to crater his legacy, as well as his 2nd term. There is just too much confusion, conflicting stories, abandonment of people on the ground, all pointing to WH lies and cover-up for this to go away.

  • jan, this weather event can only hurt Obama’s vote totals in an absolute sense. The coastal areas are more heavily Democratic. Suppress the vote totals in Philly and maybe PA goes to Romney. And it isn’t going to help Obama loo Presidential either.

    And apparently some member of the press asked Carney to today if the President is considering moving the election date. Carney apparently didn’t have an answer to that one. So the press member and the WH Press Secretary are both a pair of idiots. The President has zero authority on that matter.

  • And it isn’t going to help Obama loo Presidential either.

    I see what you did there, LOL.

  • If only I had done it on purpose!

    Steve V., I think the President’s supporters have talked me into voting for Romney. Talk me out of it!

  • I’m getting phone-polled about twice a day now.

  • Ice,

    Not voting and proud and Why your vote doesn’t count.

    Stay home, have a drink, watch something good on television (okay, okay that is a difficult task…try Netflix or something like that), read a book, go for a walk with the wife and/or dog(s), cook dinner, anything you do will likely be both more rewarding and more beneficial to you (and the rest of society) and don’t vote.

    I’ll probably see what is on Netflix and watch with the wife and son. If I can’t find anything there to watch I’ll go blow up tanks in World of Tanks.

    Oh and a side benefit of living in Cali….I never get polled on who I plan to vote fore.

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