The Indianapolis Star offered a tepid half-endorsement of John Kasich on Friday, putting the paper in position to join a long list of newspapers whose endorsements in the GOP race this year have had no bearing on the outcome of their state's primaries.
In advance of the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary, the two biggest Palmetto papers — The State and The Post and Courier — endorsed Kasich, yet he came in fifth, with less than 10% of the vote. The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press both endorsed Kasich in the run-up to the Michigan primary, but he came in third there. Kasich was endorsed by The New York Times and he did take 25% of the vote in the New York primary, but that was 35 percentage points behind Donald Trump, and he walked away with only 4 of the state's 95 delegates.
Kasich has been king of the editorial boards, but Marco Rubio also did great among the ink-stained set. Major Florida papers including the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel and The Tampa Tribune all endorsed Rubio, yet he lost his home-state primary to Trump and dropped out of the race. The Chicago Tribune endorsed Rubio, but he got less than 10% of the vote in Illinois. The Des Moines Register endorsed him before the Iowa caucuses, the nation's first contest, but the Florida senator came in third there.
Donald Trump, who has been the Republican front-runner for months, appears to have only three major newspaper endorsements: The New York Post, the New York Observer and the National Enquirer.
Newspaper endorsements "don't sway people," said Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University. "The era when the endorsements mattered was before talk radio, was before Fox News, was before the more severe polarization" of the nation's political discourse.
Gitlin notes that in general, "Newspapers matter less. My students don't read newspapers.. (and) I doubt BuzzFeed endorses."
For the record, The Star made clear that it was not formally endorsing Kasich, who has stopped campaigning in Indiana, though it called him "the best choice for voters in the Republican primaries."