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Does it matter that Donald Trump has no major newspaper endorsements?

Newspapers have been writing warnings instead.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Sep 30, 2016   Updated on May 25, 2021, 9:41 pm CDT

Four days after the first presidential debate of 2016, the numbers are starting to add up against Donald Trump. He’s losing on endorsements, falling behind in polls, and was drubbed in fact checking.

With just a little over a month to go before Election Day, Trump has earned zero presidential endorsements from America’s 50 biggest newspapers. He trails both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (who has 10 such endorsements so far) and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson (four endorsements).

Some of the endorsements—or disendorsements, a new word meaning a plea to not vote for a candidate—have been historic.

USA Today, America’s biggest newspaper by circulation, has never made an endorsement in its entire history. On Thursday night, it published an editorial proclaiming Trump unfit to lead. It wasn’t so much an enthusiastic endorsement of Clinton as it was a strong repudiation of Trump. Just read the URL: “dont-vote-for-trump.

Newspapers in traditionally red states have opted blue this time around. The Arizona Republic has fielded canceled subscriptions and death threats since their endorsement of Clinton. Papers like the Cincinnati Enquirer, which have endorsed Republicans for almost 100 years, acknowledged that this exceptional election called for breaking with tradition when they endorsed Clinton.

Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, is not going to win any states come November. But he’s taken numerous endorsements from conservative papers that, in the past, have been Republican mainstays. The Manchester Union Leader sharply berated Trump before calling Johnson’s ticket “a bright light of hope.”

Does it matter? Trump has made sport of hating media during this campaign, and his is supporters are on board with that. But he’s down in the polls with time running out, so Trump’s need to expand his supporter base faces a major obstacle if he continues his cold streak with endorsements. Most major newspapers still have yet to endorse.

Speaking of polls, Trump took a dip post-debate according to all measures except, perhaps, himself.

Of all the utterances around the first presidential debate that left observers dizzied with confusion, one of the most disorienting moments came the morning after. Trump, celebrating a victory while all crucial indicators pointed to a loss, pointed to a favorable CBS poll as proof that he’d won.

No such poll existed, CBS White House Correspondent Major Garrett quickly explained on Twitter.

CBS didn’t even conduct polls after the debate. No matter, Trump continued to cite the phantom poll.

Does it matter? In this election, it’s often tough to tell what does. Maybe the Star Trek endorsements will make more of a difference.

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*First Published: Sep 30, 2016, 12:54 pm CDT