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Election 2012: Do newspaper endorsements of political candidates matter? November 22, 2012

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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In mid-October, just a few weeks before Election Day, Barack Obama received one of the biggest endorsements of his campaign. The Salt Lake Tribune, the biggest newspaper from the state most likely to give Mitt Romney his biggest margin of victory in 2012, announced that it was endorsing Barack Obama for president. Romney was adopted by the state of Utah after saving its winter Olympics in 2002. However, the editors of the newspaper wrote, “Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: ‘Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?'” While Obama had not been a perfect leader, the newspaper stated, he was described as “a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day.”

The endorsement from The Salt Lake Tribunewas one among many, but it posed an interesting question: how much do these kinds endorsements really matter? According to one analysis of the issue by NPR’s David Folkenflik, newspaper endorsements don’t carry the same weight they once did. In a series of interviews with likely voters in swing states, Folkenflik was told by one Romney backer, “Honestly, it doesn’t influence me at all. There’s definitely an underlying mistrust in the media from my perspective.” Another likely voter told NPR about an Ohio newspaper’s endorsement, “The endorsement really has no impact on my thought — or who I will vote for,  My opinion is as valid as the editor of the newspaper, and it’s my vote, so I will decide for myself.” Another likely voter elaborated, “”I think the people should be the ones to make the decisions — as opposed to these newspapers.”

For more on the waning power of newspaper endorsements, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How might newspaper endorsements of candidates impact political races?

2.  Why are these endorsements limited in power?

3.  What did you think was the most powerful newspaper endorsement in the 2012 election?

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