On the eve of the election, President Obama has won the race for major newspaper endorsements, though by a narrower margin than he did in 2008. Of the 100 biggest newspapers in the country, 41 have endorsed Obama and 35 have endorsed Mitt Romney, according to data compiled by the American Presidency Project at University of California (Santa Barbara).
In 2008, 65 of the top 100 newspapers endorsed Obama and 25 endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
This year, the combined circulation of the 41 papers endorsing Obama is 10,015,000, compared with 16,100,000 for the papers endorsing him in 2008. The combined circulation of the papers endorsing Romney is 6,476,000, compared with a total circulation of 5,194,000 for the papers endorsing McCain in 2008.
(RELATED: Swing State Early Voting Tally)
The endorsements reflect a disenchantment with Obama since the heady homestretch of the 2008 campaign. Twelve of the papers endorsing Romney this year—more than a third of his total—had endorsed Obama in 2008. On Sunday, New York’s The Daily News, the country’s fifth-largest paper with 580,000 subscribers, endorsed Romney despite having endorsed Obama in 2008. Its editorial laments stagnant wages, rising costs, and the pace of the economy’s recovery, stating that the hopes of 2008 “went unfulfilled.”
One newspaper issued a split endorsement. And in a sign of rising disenchantment with the political system in general, the number of top-100 papers declining to endorse either candidate has doubled from four to eight. (A total of 21 did not issue endorsements, but some papers do not endorse as a matter of policy).
In a terse, four-paragraph editorial published in August, Portland’s The Oregonian, which endorsed Obama in 2008, bemoaned the lack of access to the candidates outside of swing states, and declined to endorse either Obama or Romney. “Our CNN-level view of the presidential race is similar to everyone else's,” the editorial board wrote.
But is unclear how much influence newspaper endorsements enjoy in the age of digital media, and they serve only as a very rough indicator of the mood of the electorate. In Iowa, all four of the state’s big papers endorsed Romney, but the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls in the state has Obama up 2.4 points.
In 2004, 54 of the major papers endorsed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., while only 35 endorsed former President George W. Bush, who went on to win a second term.