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Muscogee Local Government

Endorsements Help Voters Learn

Voters years ago would fold up a wrinkled copy of the local newspaper’s political endorsements and carry them into the voting booth as a road map on Election Day. Those days are gone, fueled by a schedule of early voting that takes some people to the polls long before papers have published their choices.

So should newspapers make endorsements?

Mother Jones has published a scorecard of endorsements in the presidential race. The headline is that Donald Trump has yet to earn an endorsement. Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by 18 daily newspapers and even wacky Gary Jones has been tabbed by three papers. Polling data says otherwise and a visit to social media sites paints an entirely different picture.

But this doesn’t mean newspapers should give up their ancient franchise. Comments on the editorial pages still impact thinking and helps some people sort out their opinions.

The true value of endorsing comes in the local races. Newspaper editorial boards invite candidates into the office for interviews. The importance of these conversations lies in the questions that are asked, for they help locals frame their own ideas about the issues.

I have sat in on scores of these meetings and it is fascinating how much you can learn about a candidate by sitting across the table from him or her. Body language can be deafening. You know immediately if the candidate has prepared or whether they just showed up.

Board members then vote among themselves and it is those decisions that show up in print. Years ago, after an internal debate about how much clout the endorsements really had, our research showed an amazing track record.

As the final decisions grow closer, keep reading. You may learn something.

 

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. John

    October 6, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Depends on the motivation for the endorsement. Most (all?) the newspapers endorsing HRC are owned by Left leaning corporate entities. So how valuable is such an endorsement? Many papers, and polls, predicted the Governor of GA would now be named Carter and our junior Senator would be Nunn – in a landslide. How did that turn out? Immediately prior to the vote the consensus was the Democrats were ahead by 5 or more points. They both lost by double digits as I recall. Newspapers seem to have become so tied to ideology that their impact is nominal.

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