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Endorsement watch: Who stands with Trump?

Texas Monthly wonders if any Texas newspaper will endorse Donald Trump.

Between the three newspapers with the largest circulations in Texas—the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the San Antonio Express-News—there have been exactly two endorsements of a Democratic presidential nominee in the last forty years (the Chronicle and Express-News backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, respectively). This year, however, all three papers have endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the first time the trio has gone completely blue in at least 75 years. This weekend, two smaller Texas papers, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the El Paso Times, also raised their flags for Clinton. That’s a 5-0 newspaper endorsement lead for the Democratic nominee in Texas—a lead that jumps to 6-0 if you count the endorsement of the University of Texas-Austin’s student paper, the Daily Texan. This is fairly shocking considering Texas hasn’t voted Democrat since a peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976.

There’s about a month left until election day, and plenty of Texas newspapers still have yet to make an endorsement. But it’s worth noting that Texas seems to be part of a nationwide trend that’s seeing papers that have historically backed conservative candidates turn away from Republican nominee Donald Trump. The Cincinnati Enquirer went with a Democrat for the first time in nearly a century. The Arizona Republic had never chosen a non-Republican since it started publishing in 1890, until it endorsed Clinton last week. And the San Diego Union-Tribune broke a 148-year streak of endorsing Republicans on Friday when it implored its readers not to vote for Trump.

The Dallas Morning News‘s streak was nearly as impressive, stretching back to 1940, when the paper backed Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his successful campaign for a third term. “We don’t come to this decision easily,” the Morning News wrote in an editorial explaining the Clinton endorsement in September. “Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.” The newspaper went on to say “Trump’s values are hostile to conservatism,” and that he “plays on fear… to bring out the worst in all of us.” The story garnered more than 3,500 online comments and drew about a dozen protesters to the steps of the Morning News‘ building in downtown Dallas. The endorsement also seemed to rile up the Republican nominee himself:

The Houston Chronicle was an early endorser of Clinton, jumping on board way back in July. Like the Morning News,

the Chronicle pulled no punches, writing: “Any one of Trump’s less-than-sterling qualities—his erratic temperament, his dodgy business practices, his racism, his Putin-like strongman inclinations and faux-populist demagoguery, his contempt for the rule of law, his ignorance—is enough to be disqualifying. His convention-speech comment, ‘I alone can fix it,’ should make every American shudder. He is, we believe, a danger to the Republic.” Meanwhile, the San Antonio Express-News chose not to analyze the characters of Trump and Clinton and instead focused on policy issues, eventually concluding that “Clinton is the only logical choice in this presidential election.” Before their recent Obama endorsements, the last time the papers picked a Democrat was 1976, when the Express-News endorsed Jimmy Carter, and 1964, when both the Chronicle and the Express-News endorsed Lyndon B. Johnson.

The El Paso Times went after Trump pretty hard for his border policies and his well-documented racist outbursts against Hispanic people. “A Trump presidency would be a disaster for our country, and worse for those of us on the border,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial. “His promises to make Mexico pay for a needless wall between our nations, and his vow to unilaterally terminate vital trade agreements, would disrupt one of the United States’ most important international relationships and set the border economy back decades.” The Times proceeded to quote, in entirety, Trump’s infamous remarks from June, when he described Mexican immigrants as rapists. It called the prospect of a Trump presidency “detestable.” And it said a vote for Clinton “allows El Pasoans to push back on efforts to marginalize and demonize our community.”

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times was far more pro-Hillary than its primarily Donald-dumping newsprint siblings. “She is not, as has been sold, a mere lesser of two evils,” the Caller-Times wrote. “Her experience and intellect would make her a standout in any group of candidates.” But the paper still got in a few well-placed jabs at Trump, saying he’s “an insult to voters’ intelligence” and that “voting for Trump is a form of nihilism,” and even implying that Trump doesn’t know how to change a diaper.

There are a few more major newspapers in Texas that have yet to announce an endorsement—the biggest being theAustin American-Statesman, but it’s hard to imagine the newspaper that services our state’s most liberal city will side with Trump, especially considering no major newspaper in the country has done such a thing as of right now, aside from the New York Observer (which is published by Trump’s son-in-law) and the Onion-esque National Enquirer. Even if Clinton sweeps the Texas newspaper endorsement circuit, it may not make much of a difference in the final poll, at least in the Lone Star State, where Trump has held on to a modest lead of about six points despite this first handful of non-endorsements.

Let’s put aside the question of how much these endorsements matter – most likely, the answer is “not very much” – and ask the question “will newspapers in heavily Republican areas still endorse Trump?” I’m thinking the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the Odessa American, and so forth. I mean, if the Morning News pissed off some people enough to make them angrily protest in front of their building, what happens if one of those papers declines to toe the party line? Maybe they’ll go the route a few Republican-aligned papers have gone and stump for Gary Johnson, or maybe they’ll make like USA Today and denounce Trump but not endorse anyone. I figure Sundays are the days where they’re most likely to publish their choice, so I’ll keep an eye on it. But if any paper will go for Trump, I would bet its one of these. Mother Jones has more.

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