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Newspaper Ed Pages Flocking to Obama

Last week, our Tom Jacobs reported on a new study from Brown University academics that demonstrated
newspaper endorsements can affect elections — if the endorsement is unexpected.

The example Tom used was that of his hometown paper, the ChicagoTribune, pumping for Barack Obama after having supported GOP candidates back to the day of its state's favorite son, Abraham Lincoln.

Another unexpected example could have been the Los Angeles Times, which endorsed a presidential candidate for the first time since it endorsed Richard Nixon in 1972. (The Times endorsed Obama this time.)

So far this election cycle, our friends at the American Presidency Project have counted 62 of the nation's biggest circulating papers supporting Obama, and 18 his Republican opponent, John McCain. At Editor & Publisher, which looks at all daily papers, regardless of size, the numbers are different but the story the same: 222-93 as of Oct. 28.

The largest paper to endorse McCain was the New YorkPost, which called for McCain's election back on Sept. 8. The Post is, by circulation, the nation's sixth-largest paper, falling between the (pro-Obama) New York Daily News and the (pro-Obama) WashingtonPost.

Speaking of size, the nation's two largest papers, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, generally don't endorse candidates. The Journal certainly appears to be broadly sympathetic to McCain, but that inference has not produced an editorial confirming the impression. (It's also owned by Rupert Murdoh's News Corp., which also runs the New YorkPost.)

The Presidency Project notes that 10 big papers that supported George W. Bush in 2004 have this year opted for Obama, while no paper that supported John Kerry back then has thrown its lot in with McCain.

But back to the question asked last week, do endorsements matter? Well, Kerry had the backing of 48 big papers, Dubya 26, and two papers thought the race both tasted great and was less filling.