Do newspaper endorsements matter anymore? Did they ever matter? According to a 2000 study by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, an endorsement by a minister, priest, or rabbi carries much more weight than a newspaper endorsement. A study conducted in 2012 by the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center found that newspaper endorsements do little to sway most voters.
But then, maybe it depends on who you ask and how you ask the question. In 2008, Catherine Rampell argued in the New York Times that newspaper endorsements matter only when they run counter to conventional expectations. For example, Rampell cites another study of the 2000 election that showed that the least persuasive newspaper endorsements came from papers that typically endorse candidates from either party. According to that study, the New York Times and the Dallas Morning News published the least credible endorsements because both papers have a long track record of endorsing Democrats and Republicans, respectively. In fact, the last time the Dallas Morning News didn’t endorsement the Republican nominee was way back in 1964. That year, the paper’s publisher and editor were split between LBJ and Goldwater, and so the DMN decided not to print any endorsement.
Which is why today’s publication in the Dallas Morning News of a two-part presidential endorsement is so monumental. For the first time in a half-century the DMN has not endorsed a Republican presidential candidate. In fact, the first part of the paper’s two-part endorsement focuses entirely on making the argument that Donald Trump is not a true Republican. I expect part two will make a measured case for Hilary Clinton.
So will the unexpectedness of this endorsement sway Dallas Republicans away from Trump? Perhaps it won’t matter. According to new polls, Trump risks losing Texas in November. Texas, which has not elected a Democrat to a statewide office in 20 years, is now a toss up in this election.
And 2016 continues its strange ways.