Des Moines Register Endorses Romney, First Republican In 40 Years

I remain skeptical about the utility or influence of newspaper endorsements, but it is always interesting to note when a prominent news paper in a swing state switches there endorsement from one party to another. That happened last night when The Des Moines Register, which had not endorsed a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972 and endorsed Obama only four years ago, endorsed Mitt Romney: 

Mitt Romney won the endorsement of The Des Moines Register on Saturday evening, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to capture the newspaper’s recommendation to Iowa voters since Richard Nixon in 1972.

Four years ago, the newspaper’s editorial pages supported Barack Obama. But Mr. Romney secured the endorsement this year, with the editorial saying that he offered a “fresh economic vision.”

“Voters should give Mitt Romney a chance to correct the nation’s fiscal course and to implode the partisan gridlock that has shackled Washington and the rest of America — with the understanding that he would face the same assessment in four years if he does not succeed,” the editorial said.

The value of newspaper endorsements—like all endorsements—is an open question. But the fight for Iowa’s six electoral votes is intense in the closing stage of the campaign and it could provide a boost for Mr. Romney’s efforts to win over a sliver of undecided suburban voters.

The president fought for the endorsement, calling the paper’s editor and publisher earlier this week. But the message of the call was overshadowed by a White House request that the conversation be off the record. The administration reversed course a day later.

Mr. Obama has an advantage among those who have voted early over the last month, but the state remains highly competitive. Mr. Romney is scheduled to campaign there on Monday.

From the endorsement:

Ten months ago this newspaper endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president. An overarching consideration was which of the party’s candidates could we see occupying the White House, and there was no question that Romney was qualified for the job.

Now, in the closing days of the general election campaign, the question is which of the two contenders deserves to be the next president of the United States.

Both President Barack Obama and Governor Romney are superbly qualified. Both are graduates of the Harvard University Law School who have distinguished themselves in government, in public service and in private life. Both are devoted husbands and fathers.

American voters are deeply divided about this race. The Register’s editorial board, as it should, had a vigorous debate over this endorsement. Our discussion repeatedly circled back to the nation’s single most important challenge: pulling the economy out of the doldrums, getting more Americans back in the workforce in meaningful jobs with promising futures, and getting the federal government on a track to balance the budget in a bipartisan manner that the country demands.

The President currently has a 2.3 point lead in the RealClearPolitics average in the Hawkeye State, and Democrats once again seem to have an advantage in early voting in the state. So, it’s unclear what impact, if any, this endorsement would have there. However, if there’s one endorsement that could change the way a swing state goes, this might be the one.

In other news, The New York Times unsurprisingly endorsed the President today, bringing their unbroken string of endorsements for Democratic candidates to 56 years.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jeff Sexton says:

    The Aiken Standard essentially endorsed “anyone but Obama” today. I take it as a de facto Johnson endorsement, since even in one of the most Republican areas of SC – the heart of Joe “You Lie” Wilson’s district – they couldn’t pull the trigger on endorsing Romney.

  2. Stonetools says:

    Apparently,the DMR believes that Moderate Mitt is the real Mitt Romney, and that Severely Conservative Mitt was just a phase. It’s clear that Moderate Mitt is who they are endorsing.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    One of the editorial board members needs to explain how they think that a mathematically impossible economic plan is going to right our fiscal course. He was only able to turn around the Olymics with massive inflows of federal money. And most companies went bankrupt under Bains management.
    Also Mr. Ryan’s record is the furthest thing from bi-partisan as it could be. Romney’s record in MA is not bi-partisan if you look beyond the spin.
    The Registers endorsement doesn’t seem grounded in the real world.
    Are Jan, Tsar, and Doug suddenly on the editorial board????

  4. Gustopher says:

    The DMR really knows how to pick their Republicans, don’t they? Nixon, impeached for basically being a corrupt, dishonest nozzle of a feminine hygiene product, and now Romney, who will say anything to anyone in his desperate quest to be president.

    At least Nixon had some convictions.

  5. PogueMahone says:

    What a worthless article.
    It fails to explain, specifically, why Romney should be hired or why Obama should be fired.

    “Economic Vision”

    What vision!?

  6. MBunge says:

    The only way to understand this endorsement is to imagine the Register thinks it’s doing God’s work to nudge the GOP back in the direction of sanity. They’re just disregarding everything Mitt has said or done over the last 6 years, ignoring how electing ANY Republican President at this time would only embolden the Steve King’s of Congress and trusting that a Very Important Person like Mitt will act like Very Important People are theoretically supposed to.


  7. al-Ameda says:

    Hey, it’s Iowa, home of Representative Steve King. So who can be surprised that the DMR would endorse a serial phony like Mitt Romney?

  8. Ed in NJ says:

    A little something for Republicans to hang there fading hopes on, while spurring Democratic turnout. In other words, meaningless.

  9. Vast Variety says:

    Now I remember why I don’t subscribe to the Register.