Do Newspaper Endorsements Matter?

Nate Silver says they do in New Hampshire, but not in Iowa

Last Updated: December 19, 2011 @ 9:35 AM

So how much do political endorsements from newspapers really matter?

In Iowa, not a whole lot, according to the New York Times’ Nate Silver.

Two weeks after examining the impact of an endorsement from News Hampshire’s Union Leader, Silver turned his discerning eye on the Des Moines Register, the largest daily in Iowa.

While a vote of confidence from the Union Leader does boost a candidate’s chances, the same cannot be said for the Register, which endorsed Romney on Saturday.

While six of the past eight candidates endorsed by the Register saw their performance in the actual vote beat the projections before the endorsement, the overall jump is statistically insignificant.

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The biggest benefactor was John Edwards in 2004, who did not even go on to win the caucus (Howard Dean did).

And as for Republicans, two of the past four to secure endorsements actually dropped in the polls – George W. Bush in 2000 and Bob Dole in 1996.

This is all good news for Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, his two chief rivals in the state. Paul, the libertarian iconoclast who has been deemed unelectable by nearly every pundit on Fox News, is actually leading in the polls.

Given his ideologically consistency – or rigidity, depending on how you look at it — Paul is unlikely to get a wave of endorsements from any segment of the Republican party.

For now, Romney is racking up the endorsements given that many Republicans have less than fond memories of Gingrich.

It remains to be seen how much they will help.