With an end to the Afghanistan war in sight and a small, but visible, fall below 8 percent in the unemployment rate, newspapers in crucial swing states have publicly endorsed President Barack Obama for a second term for those very reasons.
But the clout that newspapers wield is not what it used to be, experts caution, especially in an age where the Internet provides news from multiple sources and televised endorsements from the likes of Oprah Winfrey or Jon Stewart may have more influence on political preference.
“Print newspapers have lost a lot of their clout in the Internet age and there are so many competing sources of news that they no longer have the monopoly on this they once enjoyed,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.
“Moreover, as other kinds of partisan organizations have strengthened, they tend to counteract what these editors say,” Zelizer added. “In general, there is less trust anymore that any media is really unbiased, so endorsement is harder to sell. [It is] obviously better for a candidate to have than not to have, but there are big limits.”
Just days before the final presidential debate of 2012, Obama is slightly ahead of GOP nominee Mitt Romney in swing states' newspaper endorsements, 5 to 4, according to Poynter. Several of these newspapers flocked to the Democratic nominee, whom they believe made reasonable progress lifting the nation out of the economic slump that resulted from the 2008 meltdown.
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Obama, who will go toe-to-toe with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Monday in the last of three debates, has snagged backing from papers in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. But their weight may prove to be relative.
“Newspaper endorsements are like dinosaurs,” said Thomas Whalen, associate professor of social science at Boston University. “There is this distrust for the media and there is the feeling you get more from new media.”
Nevertheless, swing state papers have voiced their support, and here are some of the reasons they cited:
Denver Post: “As President Barack Obama campaigns for re-election, it would be a stretch to say we are bullish on the entirety of his first term. There have been notable accomplishments: rescuing the nation's auto industry, passing comprehensive (though contentious) health-care reform, and delivering justice to Osama bin Laden. But those accomplishments are juxtaposed against a sluggish economy and less impressive performances in tackling the federal debt and deficits, reducing unemployment and bolstering the housing market. A largely intransigent Republican Party shares in the blame, however, particularly because of unwillingness to cede any ground to Obama in the last two years on policies — such as the president's American Jobs Act — that attempt to bolster the economy.”
Durango Herald: “The question before presidential voters is simple: Who will better serve this country for the next four years, Mitt Romney or Barack Obama? When couched in straightforward terms, the answer is clear: President Obama should be re-elected. Obama has done a reasonably good job handling an almost unprecedented economic mess – a situation that has proved far worse than anyone knew as it developed. Still, there is room for debate about the direction the country is headed. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has offered no credible alternative. Its platform consists of little more than nostalgia for the 1950s, and its presidential candidate largely remains a mystery. Romney has publicly demonstrated no core convictions beyond his obvious belief that he should be president. He apparently thinks that simply not being Obama is qualification enough. It is not.”
Tampa Bay Times: “The recovery has proven more difficult than anyone imagined. But conditions would be far worse without the president's steady leadership. This is not the time to reverse course and return to the failed policies of the past. Without hesitation, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Barack Obama for re-election as president. By many measures, the economy is improving steadily even if growth remains painfully slow. There have been 31 straight months of job growth, and more than 5 million private sector jobs have been created. The unemployment rate is down to 7.8 percent — not great, but the same as when Obama took office. The stock market has come back, new housing starts are the highest in four years and housing prices in Tampa Bay and other areas are rising. The financial industry is stable, interest rates remain low and corporate profits are healthy. There is still too much economic pain, but America is better off than most of the rest of the industrialized world.”
The Plain Dealer of Cleveland: “He has led the nation back from the brink of depression. Ohio in particular has benefited from his bold decision to revive the domestic auto industry. Because of his determination to fulfill a decades-old dream of Democrats, 30 million more Americans will soon have health insurance. His Race to the Top initiative seeded many of the education reforms embodied in Cleveland's Transformation Plan. He ended the war in Iraq and refocused the battle to disrupt al-Qaida and its terrorist allies. He ordered the risky attack inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.”
The paper did add, however, that this year’s endorsement comes with “less enthusiasm or optimism.” This is because of the ongoing attacks on Romney and not using more of the time spent on the campaign trail to show Obama's vision for America for the next four years.
Akron Beacon Journal: “We recommend the re-election of Barack Obama on Nov. 6.
Recall how dire things were when he arrived at the White House, the economy plunging downward, at a pace much worse than almost anyone thought, contracting 8.9 percent in the final quarter of 2008, and then another 6.5 percent the following three months. The job losses were staggering, the contraction the most severe since the Great Depression. The blows to housing, construction and finance made certain the recovery would be slow and halting, many coping with diminished assets and heavy debt, all of it setting back demand. In response, the Obama White House and a Democratic Congress acted as aggressively as the political landscape would allow. They enacted a stimulus package that prevented something much worse and set the economy on a path of growth. They rescued the auto industry. They strengthened regulation of Wall Street.
Ohioans should know the makeover of General Motors and Chrysler avoided what would have been calamitous, liquidation, no less, the ripple effect upending lives far removed from automakers and their suppliers.”
Asheville Citizen-Times: “The GOP and Democrats disagree significantly on issues from health care, energy policy, women’s health, the regulation of the financial community, the role of government in American life and the role of America on the world stage.
It’s hard to know exactly how these differences apply to the presidential race because, despite having essentially run for president for six years, it’s still hard to get a handle on many of Romney’s positions. It is difficult to know whether a President Romney would be the progressive who governed Massachusetts or the partisan of the campaign trail.
Would we get the Romney who championed universal health insurance for his state or the one who opposes it for the nation? Would he be the governor who said a Massachusetts coal-burning power plant was killing people or the campaigner who said, “I like coal?”
With Obama, we know what we are getting. He has consistently embraced the concept of community. Obama believes we are not just a bunch of individuals but a nation, and that we must work together to address the challenges we face.