Test Version of Jen Saba’s New Column

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By: Jennifer Saba

Sen. John Kerry did win something this week, without even resorting to a recount: The Democrat edged President Bush in E&P’s final tally of daily newspaper endorsements in the race for the White House.

As readers (such as Michael Lewis) tipped us off to a few stragglers, Bush gained eight additional smaller papers while Kerry nabbed two, bringing the count — as best we know it — to 213 for the challenger and 205 for the incumbent. Looking back at various E&P surveys in past decades, we can see this was a rare occasion when the Democratic candidate for president getting more editorial nods than the Republican.

We have also been tabulating the circulation of papers supporting each candidate — and double- and triple-checking our math. In our final total, Kerry won that race handily, 20,882,889 to 15,743,799.

Now, before you say, “for all the good it did him,” we’d like to remind you that earlier this week we predicted the outcome in 15 tough battleground states, strictly on the basis of newspaper endorsements. Unlikely as it seems, we were correct on 14 of those races, with Florida the only (though fatal for Kerry) miscue. All those big papers endorsing him in the Sunshine State didn’t seem to do him a hell of a lot of good.

Still, the results in the other swing states indicate that perhaps editorial endorsements do mean something, at least in tight races. You can expect to see deeper commentary on this in the future. At least one analyst, drawing on E&P’s findings, plans to correlate endorsements with an upswing or downswing in the candidates’ standing in the polls.

In fact, we are delighted that our exclusive tally proved so popular. Among other offshoots, it was picked up by dozens of Web site and blogs, some providing links to most of the editorials, others providing their own charts and breakdowns.

We are also pleased that so many publishers, editors, CEOs, and reporters, wishing to take part in this democratic tally, wrote us to announce their own papers’ endorsements. For the record: At least a dozen of them indicated that their editorial board wanted to endorse one candidate (Kerry) but the publisher or corporate owner insisted they endorse another (Bush).

In fact, one of the seemingly hopeful trends for Kerry in this election race was that more than 60 newspapers that had backed Bush in 2000 switched to the Democrat or declared neutrality. But these flip-flops could not save him, as Bush voters remained steadfast.

Here are those eight final additions to the Bush tally:

The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.), The Sunday News Tribune (Jefferson City, Mo.), The Peninsula Clarion (Kenai, Alaska), the Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune, the Potomac News (Woodbridge, Va.), and three papers in Wisconsin: Shawano Leader, The Daily Telegram (Superior) and The Monroe (Wis.) Times.

The last two for Kerry, both in Connecticut: the Norwich Bulletin and the Greenwich Time.

Special thanks to E&P’s Erin Olson for putting most of this together every day.

Here’s our final state-by-state tally, with daily circulation numbers and, wherever possible, an indication of which paper the candidate supported in 2000.

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