Magazine article Editor & Publisher


Magazine article Editor & Publisher


Article excerpt

Bird in the hand for BUSH?

Newspaper executives endorse, plan to vote for - and predict a big victory for Bush

It's George W. Bush -- big time. The nation's newspaper editors and publishers strongly believe the Texas governor will beat Al Gore in Tuesday's election for president. By a wide margin, they plan to vote for him themselves. And, to complete this Republican trifecta, newspapers endorsed Bush by about 2-to-1 nationally. One has to wonder: whatever happened to the so-called "liberal press"?

These results -- surprising in their clear-cut nature -- come from an exclusive Editor & Publisher/TIPP survey completed exactly one week before the election. (Results of a separate newspaper readers' poll start on p. 7 of this issue.) The poll was conducted for E&P by

TIPP, a national polling firm in Oradell, N.J., a unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence.

TIPP polled 193 newspaper executives across the country, almost evenly divided between editors and publishers. This sample was weighted to roughly reflect the national breakdown of small (under 50,000 circulation), medium (50,000 to 100,000), and large (over 100,000) daily newspapers.

Besides seeking views on election results and endorsements, E&P surveyed the editors and publishers on a wide range of related issues, including perceptions of bias and overall coverage of the presidential race.

This provided some unexpected and revealing results. For example, about 25% of the editors and publishers stated they believe that newspapers, overall, showed bias in covering the presidential race, favoring one candidate over the other -- but only 4.7 % said that their paper showed any slant.

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With the election still considered tight, and a dozen or more states in the "toss-up" category, the analysis of knowledgeable local observers - - newspaper editors and publishers, for example -- should carry extraordinary weight this year.

Unfortunately for Al Gore, most of these local "experts" seem to feel that the election is slipping away from him.

Editors and publishers in most of the key toss-up states, including Florida, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, predict a Bush win in their states. Even those in Gore's home state of Tennessee predict a Bush win there. This, essentially, puts Bush over the top, giving him 301 electoral votes to 237 for Gore (see map). The vice president, in this view, will hold California, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin -- but it won't be enough.

Looking at the national race from a local perspective, the editors and publishers provide more bad news for Gore. By an astonishingly wide margin, 55% to 14%, they forecast a Bush triumph across the United States. Even those who plan to cast their votes for Gore narrowly pick Bush as the likely winner.


"The voter this year is more independent than ever before," Richard E. Campbell, editor of The Argus-Press in Owosso, Mich., told us. "He is voting for himself, not what the newspaper tells him."

Clearly, however, newspaper executives still believe in the value and importance of editorial endorsements. According to the survey, four out of five believe that endorsing candidates "is an important responsibility of newspapers." And, in fact, at least three out of four papers did make an endorsement in the presidential race this year.

Al Gore may wish they didn't.

Once again, the Democratic candidate came up short, with Bush earning 48% of the nods to 23% for Gore. In this case, size matters, with smaller papers going for Bush almost 3-to-1, midsize papers 5-to-3, and larger papers 5-to-4. The papers that backed Bush, according to the TIPP analysis, represent 58% of total national circulation while Gore's boosters represent 42%.

The leading reasons for endorsing Bush cited in the poll were "moral trust" and "strong leadership," while Gore's chief selling points are "government experience" and "the state of the economy" -- no surprises there. …

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