October 28th, 2008
08:00 AM ET

Win the endorsements, and you win the election!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/27/art.obama.1027.jpg]
Brian Knight
Associate Professor of Economics & Public Policy at Brown University

A flood of newspapers made their endorsements for the Presidential election in the past few days. In fact, the day with most endorsements is typically nine days before an election - this past Sunday. Obama now holds a 2-to-1 advantage in endorsements over McCain, according to Editor and Publisher. This pattern stands in stark contrast to 2000 and 2004, when roughly half of papers endorsed Bush.

Will Obama's lead in endorsement help him? Do they even matter?

They sure do. In a study, we found that endorsements matter big time - in certain circumstances. We examined data on voting intentions of newspaper readers before and after the publication of endorsements in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections.

The influence of endorsements depends upon the political orientation of the newspaper. Endorsements for Al Gore in 2000 from papers considered liberal, such as the New York Times, convinced less than one percent of voters to switch from George W. Bush to Gore. The endorsement for Gore from more conservative papers, such the Denver Post, had a much larger effect, convincing more than three percent of voters to switch sides.

Given Bush's razor-thin margin of victory, our analysis suggests that Gore would have won the election had he been able to secure a few more newspaper endorsements in key battleground states like Florida. And likewise for Kerry in 2004, where two of the largest newspapers in the battleground state of Ohio, the Columbus Dispatch and the Cincinnati Enquirer, endorsed Bush.

What does this all mean for 2008? Editor and Publisher reports many right-leaning newspapers are endorsing Obama over McCain. The Chicago Tribune, for example, is endorsing a Democrat for the first time in its history. We expect that these cross-over endorsements to be particularly influential because they carry more weight than endorsements from papers that always support the Democrat.

See our study.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. asaad

    I am first time voter and I can’t wait to vote for Obama. Palin spent 150,000 for dress and the GOP expecting me to trust them with money that is funny. Republicans are more spenders then Democrats for something useless. There is good deficit and there is bad one. If we spend all the money we spent in Iraq building schools and bridges even though would increase national debt, that what I consider good deficit and don’t mind paying my part.

    October 30, 2008 at 12:14 am |
  2. Janet, Maine

    This isa very important election. This is so because of where our country is at, where it is coming from and where we all want to go. Do we want another war? Economic woes? Then change the direction and the way George Bush have done things in the past. Goerge Bush went to Iraq because of oil and he also said Saddam Hussien tried to kill his Dad. Is that personal or what? Also, John McCain wants the same thing... He was in prison where? What do you think he is goint to do. Be nice to or revenge? Come on people!!. We do not want John McCain, but if he come into power GOD HELP US, he likes war a lot also he said in his speech that Barack is not ready to be tested but HE WILL TEST THEM. WHAT ON EARTH DOES THAT MEAN. ISN'T IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ENOUGH. PLEASE PEOPLE VOTE DEMOCRATS, FOR YOUR KIDS AND GRAND KIDS AND YOUR SELVES. ALSO McCain DOES NOT UNDERSTAND NOTHTING ABOUT MIDDLE CLASS, NOTHING!

    October 28, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  3. Joy, Fort Gordon, Georgia

    I still do not understand why anyone voted for Bush not once but twice and now some of these same people are pitching a fit because a Democrat maybe in office instead of the same party that for six years controlled this nation under one of the most corrupt and irresponsible administrations in American history. Now there is no guarantee that the Democrats will fix the problems but we need to realize that the candidate of our choice does not always win and yes it may suck, but at the end of election day we are still all Americans first and foremost, so we need to stand together behind our President and if we disagree with his administration we can complain, vote for someone else four years later, and if they really screw up call for their impeachment, but stop whining as if only one person is entitled to the position.
    We all have a right to our opinion including journalist and celebrities. It is interesting to see who endorses who and it can reveal some worthwhile information about a candidate, but it should not alone influence ones opinion. I just find it sad that many Americans only become interested in politics, history, and government when times are bad and during elections. Keep abreast all year round and learn something about our history and our Constitution. We need to enforce this in the younger generations. It is a sad fact but many immigrants and foreign students know more about American history and goverment than those who were born and raised right here in the U.S.

    October 28, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  4. Tyone


    As the first black candidate Obama has done the best for the people's candidate!HIM... AMD AMERICA! All this talk about Obama closing the deal IS JUST STUPID TALK! 43 white only male only President! There is no closing the deal! THAT IS JUST STUPID! Black people have fought and died to vote for WHITE PEOPLE! That is a fact of history! It is time to turn the page and be fair! The adverage White American is changeing! They are no longer in the pocket of white hatred! White Americans see that it's not working for them nor the country! Hundred of years of hating and discriminating aganist non-whites! IS JUST NOT WORKING"'! Also all this talk about Obama association is just stupid and a littlte racist! Just because YOU as a white person will not assoiate with Obama friends and associate! THAT MAKE OBAMA A BAD PERSON? WRONG! David Duke is a republican ( MEMBER OF THE KKK) Senator Robert Burke ( FORMER MEMBER OF KKK) and a Obama supporter! Senator Jesse Helms openly racist republican til his death. Senator John McCain knew and associated with all of them. McCain voted with Senator Helm against Martin Luther King holiday!

    October 28, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  5. Tyone


    Patriotism loyalty and moral have not been taught to rich white Americans! After black slavery was over for white Americans (WHITE WELFARE) . The white leadership should have talk to white America. White leadership should have said that free labor enrichment (GOVERNMENT WELFARE) is not the way of America. This is what the white founding father DID NOT COUNT ON NOR FACTER INTO OUR GOVERNMENT"! Wall Street speaks to the lack of white leadership and loyalty to country ( or the lack of)_! Also the white media lack of respect of white Americans is so transparent! They report that white people lie to polls! The fact of the matter is that white Americans are waking up to being taken for granded! They are no longer in the pocket of hatred! White Americans understand that they paid just as much for gas food war and deaths as a result of a wrong war in Iraq! The white media need to just tell the truth! Leave the spin along leave rumors along leave lies along! And just report the news! Like they did not do with former President Reagan! To this day and after Reagen death. No white reporter will tell the truth about Reagan lasts two and a half years in office. He ran the country ( OR NOT) suffering from alzheimer ! This is a republican hero! ? WHITE LEADERSHIP IS SO NEEDED!

    October 28, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  6. Vegas

    I agree... endorsments are very important...
    If Obama is good enough for Hamas... he should be good enough for me

    October 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Mike Bielamowicz

    Obama can have his endorsements as well as those from our enemies like Chavez, Castro, Bin Laden and others. I didn't know that Governor Palin was running for President. Why doesn't everyone carefully look at the character of both candidates and determine who is better. Don't discount anyone because of Party. I am proud to be registered as an independent. I am leaning, but not sure. Obama comes across too perfect, but has all of the baggage behind him like Wright, Ayers, Acorn and his Marxist statements in his own (his own) book. I would like to know more about his background. Where did he get the money to purchase a house in the same neighborhood a Reszko and Ayers. In the 1-2 million range I believe. Things don't add up, which is why I will probably vote for McCain. He's made his mistakes, but admits them. This is being more truthful to me than someone who appears to be putting on front.

    October 28, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  8. Ken

    Weezie and Toya,
    I have my eyes wide open. I am thinking of my children. I have studied the candidates. I have listened to what they say. I have compared it to their voting and lifestyle "records". I would not vote for Senator Obama if he were the only person running for President. His character, his policy, his past associations, his lack of experience, and his running mate all demand that I vote for Senator McCain. This is not a time for experimenting, (with failed socialist policies) nor is it a time to "take a chance" on false promises. One day, history will record the "dirtiness" of this election was found in the corruption of the democrat and Chicago political machines.

    October 28, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  9. John Lubeck

    The fact that half of these papers endorsed George Bush shows the incredible incompetence, lack of judgment and integrity of these papers.

    October 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  10. wells

    just look at it like this black American has been voting for white candidates for year with out been racisit and now we have a mix american of both race and some white people just dont want to excet that he is just as much as white then black u see black american are more to excet people of all reace and our family when other have hate against other race let's get over it and be proud AMERICAN and vote for who you think make the best president and stop this racist nonsence GO OBAMA

    October 28, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  11. nelson


    October 28, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  12. Toya

    It amazes me that every time something happens positive for the democrats, republicans want to discount and belittle it. This is a big deal, especially for conservative newpapers like the Tribune who has never endorsed a candidate and for Anchorage daily news who has followed Palin during her career to tell us that she is not ready! And for those of you who keep yelling look at the candidates, if you all actually did that instead of trying to convince yourselves that McCain really has a grasp of what is going on, this race would have been over. McCain has proven that he not only is out of touch with the economy, he does not stray far from Bush in his views and his policies and has come close to running the absolute dirtiest campaign in the history of the U.S. those of you who want to ignore all of the hate mongering, name calling and lack of substance that John has shown for the past 20 months must be the same geniuses that voted for Bush twice, your voters registration cards should be revoked because obviously your judgement sucks!!!!

    October 28, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  13. Weezie

    People need to pay attention to those endorsements. In those endorsements, it' s not only republicans and only democrats. It's both. Sarah Palin's own newspaper doesn't have faith in her ability to run this country if need be...why would you put the future of you, your children, grandchildren at such a risk? I'm sure many of you have already lost yur homes and jobs...do you think it's going to get any better with the same type of government? I'd much rather take a chance on something different, than to stick to the same-o, same-o. People "OPEN YOUR EYES", THIS IS A SERIOUS MATTER. THINK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE..your children!!!!!!

    October 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm |
  14. Ken

    Why in the world would I let my local newspaper influence me on how to vote? The newspaper industry cut their own throat when they decided to throw objectivity out the window. Who reads newspapers anymore? Their voice died when they lied about their unbias agenda. The assertion that a newspapers endorsement is more important than policy is absurd. Let me see...the leading newspaper in Alaska has endorsed Senator Obama...looks like I'm voting for McCain/Palin.

    October 28, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  15. jim

    Endorsements don't mean a thing. Lou Dobbs did a survey on whose endorsement was more creditable Colin Powell or Joe the Plumber. Joe the Plumber won.

    October 28, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  16. Johnny from South Carolina

    Endorsements are cool. But at the end of day people have to choose for themselves for whom they see fit to be our next President. I agree that for some undecided voters it may be important what other people or organizations think. But I honestly believe that if your decision for whom you plan to vote for is based off of the opinion of someone else. You probably should not be voting at all. Because this election is to important for our country to ride the coat tails of someone else.

    October 28, 2008 at 10:32 am |
  17. William

    And herein is one of the major problems with our system of government: Americans look to others to tell them who they should vote for instead of carefully examining the candidates' policy positions and record and voting for the one who would best serve the nation. We are allso too easily influenced by non-issues that should not be a part of a presidential campaign: gay marriage, abortion, religion, etc.

    October 28, 2008 at 10:24 am |
  18. Celeste Elliot

    ...Or spend 5x as much to buy your way to the White House. Why haven't we addressed a spending cap for Presidential campaigns? You know actual legislation? I haven't seen a McCain advertisement on TV yet, only Obama. Oh yeah, Obama agreed to a spending limit and then changed his mind. We all know what more money can do for an election. Buy it. Even the educated American will begin to lean that direction when the other candidate simply cannot afford a response. We obviously cannot leave it to CNN or our local newspapers to be balanced. This is no democracy in action. I am annoyed by the fact that McCain has had multiple Secretaries of State support him, but only one Secretary of State claimed media attention night after night, Collin Powell. How about a new generation of media where there is balanced, objective coverage? I know my candidate is not perfect and neither is the other candidate. Why should newspapers be in support of any candidate? Because it's tradition?

    October 28, 2008 at 10:00 am |
  19. Mike O'Brien

    When Governor Sarah Palin's 'newspaper's' in Alaska 'won't' endorse her.., what does that tell you ? Mike in Montana

    October 28, 2008 at 9:46 am |
  20. Ryan Field

    Newpaper endorsements don't matter this time. There are right wing Republicans who couldn't care less, left wing liberals who've been hypnotized by the notion that Barack Obama is the actual reincarnation of MLK, JFK and Abe Lincoln, and then there are the other Democrat's, like me, who are supporting McCain this time. No newspaper can change anyone's mind in this election.

    October 28, 2008 at 9:37 am |
  21. Cindy

    If anyone lets a newspaper, television station or a celebrity influence who they are voting for then they are crazy and shouldn't even be voting! You should vote on the issues and not because someone who is "popular" says so.


    October 28, 2008 at 8:59 am |
  22. chuck

    At this moment every candidate would like to win as much endorsements as possible except the endorsement of Bush and Cheney that went to McCain. Could you believe the Anchorage News Papers in Alaska has endorsed Barack Obama for President? Go figure-----if your home town papers thinks you are NOT READY then this is a big slap in the face of Sarah Palin and John McCain. They obviously know something that no one else knows.

    October 28, 2008 at 8:44 am |

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