Hillary Rodham Clinton is rolling up some impressive support among the nation’s major newspaper editorial boards.
Let’s see: The Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the San Diego Union-Tribune all have weighed in on Clinton’s side in her campaign against Republican Donald J. Trump.
All the papers mentioned have something else in common: They virtually never have endorsed Democrats for president.
Clinton also has racked up more endorsements from normally friendly editorial boards, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.
It’s impressive. But will it be decisive? Will these media giants’ editorial opinion on the merits of Trump and Clinton determine the electoral outcome all by themselves?
Trump has earned, all told, zero editorial endorsements from major newspapers. He might get a smattering of endorsements from papers of smaller size. As a point of personal privilege, I’m waiting to see how my former employer, the Amarillo Globe-News — which is owned by the very conservative William S. Morris family of Augusta, Ga. — weighs in on this campaign.
I pose the question about whether these endorsements will make the difference for a good reason. Let’s flash back to 2010.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was running for re-election. He faced a stout challenge from within his Republican Party from then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Perry defeated Sen. Hutchison handily in the GOP primary.
Then he faced former Houston Mayor Bill White, a conservative Democrat, in the general election. Perry then did something quite interesting: He declared he wouldn’t meet with any newspaper editorial boards. The governor didn’t need to talk to us ink-stained wretches. He’d talk “directly to the people of Texas.”
The result was that Perry got virtually zero editorial endorsements from newspapers around the state. Even the Globe-News, as reliably Republican-friendly as any paper in Texas, backed Mayor White.
What was the electoral result? Gov. Perry cruised to re-election. He barely broke a sweat while defeating White 55 percent to 42 percent.
Rick Perry knew how to win in Texas. He was first elected to statewide office in 1990 and was as familiar with the state’s political landscape as any politician anywhere.
I make this point to caution those out there who consider these media endorsements to be deal makers and/or deal breakers for the candidates involved.
There might be plenty of other issues that swing this election toward Hillary Clinton’s favor. I’m dubious, though, about believing that newspaper endorsements will be among them.
As my friends on the right are fond of reminding me: Newspapers don’t pack as heavy a punch as they did in the old days.