Advertiser opts not to endorse any candidate for president


POSTED: Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Honolulu Advertiser's editors left the ballot blank when it came to this year's presidential election, declining to endorse either historic ticket.






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Advertiser editors said that the paper had “;staffing constraints”; and put its emphasis in examining and making endorsements in local races.

“;We felt we should concentrate our limited resources toward local races this year and weren't likely to sway Hawaii voters one way or another in this presidential race,”; said Mark Platte, senior vice president and editor of the Advertiser.

The decision bucks a trend for the newspaper, which has endorsed Democrats Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry. Advertiser editors could not say whether the newspaper has ever declined to endorse in a presidential election before.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin was one of the first newspapers in Hawaii to endorse for the 2008 general election with a June 5 editorial urging voters to support Hawaii-born Sen. Barack Obama.

The Advertiser endorsed Obama before the Hawaii Democratic caucus in February.

Jeanne Mariani-Belding, the Advertiser's editorial and opinion editor, said yesterday that “;most people made up their minds in terms of the presidential race, particularly here, where Obama is so strong.”;

“;There is no shortage of information out there on these races. The same is not true, for instance, in our local school board races, where readers rely more heavily on their local newspaper to help weigh these candidates' positions,”; Mariani-Belding said.

Star-Bulletin Editorial Page Editor Mary Poole said the Star-Bulletin felt its opinion would be valuable.

“;Every day we tell people our opinion on any number of issues. To not say who we think should be president or mayor would be a disservice to the readers,”; Poole said.

Whether a paper's endorsement really matters is up for discussion.

Andy Winer, the Obama state coordinator, says it could help.

“;In some races, newspaper endorsements can be quite important as validators of a candidate's qualification for office,”; Winer said.

Adam Deguire, the local GOP executive director, discounted the benefits.

“;Newspaper endorsements do nothing to win elections - turning supporters into voters is what wins elections. Voter-to- voter contact, either from a neighbor, friend, or the candidate, is always more effective than any newspaper endorsement,”; Deguire said.

University of Hawaii political scientists Neal Milner and Ira Rohter added that newspaper endorsements can show that a candidate is gaining momentum.

“;Last-minute newspaper endorsements become part of a 'momentum' story that a candidate can build on, like the Chicago Tribune's endorsement of Obama,”; said Milner. “;That endorsement has become, along with polls, conservative-Palin bashing, and the Colin Powell endorsement a story about Obama's increasing success.”;

Newspaper endorsements are not too important, the two UH professors said. Still, Rohter said, “;papers are seen as more reliable source of info than candidates' materials.”;