Nate Silver decided to look at the impact of The Des Moines Register’s endorsements after the paper endorsed Mitt Romney Saturday in the Iowa Republican caucus. It’s hard to argue that the endorsements have had much effect: “On average … the candidate receiving the endorsement of The Des Moines Register has outperformed the polls by a statistically insignificant 3-point margin,” Silver writes. Republicans in the sample did worse than they polled, but that too was too small of a difference to matter.
The newspaper explains why it started to endorse candidates in 1988.
Prior to that, the thinking was the editorial page should refrain from getting mixed up in the business of who a political party chooses as its nominee.
By 1988, the Iowa caucuses had established themselves as a matter of national interest. The people of this state were watching the candidates up close, and the country was watching Iowa.
In contrast, Silver found that The Union Leader’s endorsement is a leading indicator of the New Hampshire primary results. || Earlier: Union Leader endorses Gingrich for president while blaming media for voter indecision (Poynter) || Related: Newspaper endorsements shift from GOP to split in last 40 years (Poynter)