By: Greg Mitchell
Our report last week on how newspaper endorsements could influence the presidential contest in key battleground states proved so popular (despite its admitted flaws) that your editor has agreed to stick his neck out once again and predict a national winner.
This is about as unscientific as it gets, but if E&P doesn’t give extra weight to newspaper editorials, who will? So here’s a state-by-state assessment, with the likely overall winner at the end. If this turns out wrong, blame Jayson Blair.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Our latest tally shows Kerry with five papers behind him and Bush with two, so give this state to the Democrat, unless Curt Schilling’s visit pulls it out for the president.
HAWAII: Why did Vice President Dick Cheney waste his time flying out there last weekend? Didn’t he know both Honolulu papers came out for Kerry? Bush should kiss this one aloha.
OHIO: Of the two big Bush papers from 2000, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland is (officially) neutral and The Columbus Dispatch offered a Bush endorsement that was fairly critical of the president. Kerry got Dayton, Toledo, and Akron, while Bush notched Cincinnati and Canton and the lion’s share of other papers. A slight nod to Bush, at least until the court cases begin.
MINNESOTA: Kerry grabbed the Minneapolis paper, while Saint Paul came out for Bush. You know which one is bigger. Kerry by a hair.
FLORIDA: Bush is in big trouble, if newspapers have any sway. Every large paper has gone for Kerry, with the Orlando Sentinel and other papers switching from Bush in 2000, and The Tampa Tribune (formerly for Dubya) sitting it out. So let’s give this state to Kerry, despite the Jeb factor.
WEST VIRGINIA: Some think this state is also still in play, but don’t believe it, since Bush carries the dailies, 5-2.
MICHIGAN: Unlike in previous years, the Detroit papers are not split, with the Free-Press going for Kerry and the News, shockingly, sitting it out. Kerry picked up a flip-flop in Michael Moore’s hometown of Flint, while Bush got the Grand Rapids paper. But don’t forget the Motor City, and score this for Kerry, mainly on the Detroit News abandoning Bush.
NEW MEXICO: Endorsements are fairly even in the state, but of Albuquerque’s two dailies the one backing Bush is much larger, so give Bush this state.
NEVADA: Same deal. Bush collected the dominant Las Vegas paper. Kerry did win in Reno, but Bush’s roll of the dice pays off here.
PENNSYLVANIA: As expected, the two Philly dailies and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette backed Kerry. But The Morning Call in Allentown also switched to him, and the Scranton and Harrisburg papers, previously pro-Bush, declared neutrality. The Tribune-Review almost said “shove it” before endorsing the president. Don’t believe the polls; Kerry will carry.
COLORADO: With Dean Singleton taking over as publisher at The Denver Post, both of that city’s papers lined up for Bush. Kerry picked up switches in Boulder and Greeley, but it’s not enough. Bush gets a rocky win.
IOWA: Kerry gets the Des Moines paper and a switch in Davenport. Bush carries Cedar Rapids and Sioux City. Due to the Register’s heft, give it to Kerry.
WISCONSIN: There’s a split decision among more than a dozen papers, but Kerry got the big one, in Milwaukee, and will ride it home.
OREGON: Did anyone notice that this state went from toss-up to leaning left (according to the pundits) right after The Oregonian switched from Bush to Kerry? The Democrat has also done well across the state. An easy win.
WASHINGTON: Ditto here. The Seattle Times jumped to Kerry and so did the polls. The Dem now has both Seattle papers, plus Tacoma, and three other papers that switched from Bush 2000. Bush got Spokane but it’s not nearly enough. You won’t need espresso to stay awake for this Kerry win.
MAINE: The Portland paper stayed with Kerry, and Bangor gave up on Bush. Even the Kennebunkport vote won’t save the president.
So what does this add up? A drum roll please…. Kerry by 286 electoral votes, to 252 for Bush. But if Florida goes to Bush, he wins.