Endorsements hold little sway with voters

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

There was once a time when politicians courted newspapers in search of an editorial endorsement of their candidacy.

Long before technology overwhelmed society with a minute-by-minute news cycle, the public would often rely on newspapers to give them an inside view of issues and candidates to help guide their votes.

But like so many other changes, newspaper endorsements no longer carry the weight nor influence to dramatically impact an election outcome.

There are exceptions.

I would argue that a newspaper's opinion still holds influence over local issues like municipal tax proposals or bond issues.

But especially on the national stage, a newspaper endorsement may influence a tiny slice of the electorate but beyond that, it's no more valuable an opinion than any other.

This past weekend, the largest newspapers in Iowa and New Hampshire proudly declared their endorsements for the upcoming presidential primaries.

And in both cases, it's highly doubtful those ringing endorsements will alter the eventual outcome.

The Des Moines Register, a highly-respected left-leaning publication, favored Sen. Marco Rubio.

The New Hampshire Union Leader gave the nod to Gov. Chris Christie.

Prior to the endorsements, both of those GOP contenders were near the very bottom of the polls. After the endorsements, little changed.

Gurus within the newspaper industry see this decline in influence as a troubling sign for our industry.

Not me.

I see this as a sign of much greater engagement by voters. There is, of course, a peril to this avalanche of information. Much of what passes as "news" on social media is little more than propaganda and twisted reasoning.

Yet, regardless of the merits or authenticity of what passes as social media news, there is no argument that quantity has far outpaced quality.

Thoughtful and well-intended newspaper political endorsements have virtually lost their place in today's societal soap box.

Largely uninformed shrill babble now drowns out most dissenting voices

I guess this is progress?

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