Do newspaper endorsements matter?

The last few election cycles (and perhaps in every election cycle in history) there’s been talk about whether newspaper endorsements matter.

My short answer: Sure. Sometimes.

Where they have the greatest impact is low-profile, nonpartisan races. Why, even a civically-engaged lad such as yours truly glanced at the Austin Chronicle endorsements for the Austin Community College Board before casting my ballot at City Hall yesterday. I hope that wasn’t a mistake.

An endorsement from the Chronicle is clearly a coveted prize for local candidates. It is often the only thing that many people will have read about a race for City Council or school board. For liberal voters who are otherwise unfamiliar with the candidates, the Chronicle is a convenient way to figure out who the candidate is who probably aligns with your politics. (Plz, urbanists, I don’t need the lecture about how the Chronicle is in fact reactionary, not liberal. That’s a different conversation)

Here, for instance, is a Kathie Tovo sign on S. 5th, across from the Twin Oaks Library Branch.


The Statesman, like a number of other local dailies, has gotten out of the candidate endorsement game (but apparently not the proposition endorsement game). My guess is that the Statesman’s endorsements were never quite as impactful as the Chronicle’s simply because the Statesman has always been ideologically ambiguous and did not speak to a distinct political constituency.

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