With just a week remaining before the Iowa caucuses, the editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper weighed in over the weekend with its sought-after endorsements.
While endorsements are nearly always a positive development for the candidates who receives them, for Republicans, the Register’s backing is tricky – which is precisely why Donald Trump and Ted Cruz refused to meet with the editorial board and expressed no interest in receiving the endorsement.
Politico added, “Republican strategists and political observers predicted that unlike in previous years, a Register endorsement is an instant talking point for rivals, proof that the winners are aligned with a mainstream media outlet’s moderate-to-liberal lean.”
FiveThirtyEight noted that candidates endorsed by the Register have traditionally received about a three-point bounce in Iowa polling, but there’s very little about this presidential cycle that’s “traditional.”
As for the paper’s track record for backing caucus winners, recent history is … mixed.
In 1988, the Register endorsed Bob Dole on the Republican side, who won the caucuses, while it backed Paul Simon, and he came in second.
In 1996, the paper again backed Dole, who won the caucuses again.
In 2000, the editorial board endorsed George W. Bush, who won the Republican caucuses, while it backed Bill Bradley in the Democratic caucuses, and he came in second.
In 2004, the Register backed John Edwards, who finished second.
In 2008, the paper endorsed John McCain, who finished fourth among Republicans, while it backed Hillary Clinton, who finished third among Democrats.
In 2012, the editorial board endorsed Mitt Romney, who finished second in the caucuses.
As for the substance of the editorials themselves, the piece backing Rubio noted his capacity for leading the party in a direction in which the GOP “could renounce its fealty to the economic elite and its fixation with tax cuts for the wealthy.”
I’ve seen the media heap some odd praise on Rubio over the years, but this might be the strangest. The senator’s entire economic plan is built on trickle-down economics, delivering a windfall to the economic elite in the form of tax breaks the country can’t afford, as part of a plan with numbers that don’t come close to adding up.
It seems the Register is supporting Rubio because of his platform – which bears no real resemblance to his actual platform.