Nation's Biggest Newspapers Favor Obama, But Many Disillusioned

Close split in newspaper endorsements indicate presidential race is much closer than in 2008

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama attend the 67th annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a charity gala organized by the Archdiocese of New York, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama at the 2012 Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York.

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The presidential election will end Tuesday, after months of speculation and media coverage. Once, newspapers' back pagers were the harbingers of the media's political preferences and a guiding voice to their readers.

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While that may not be the case any longer, newspapers continue to reach millions of Americans across the country.

In 2008, most of the nation's top 100 newspapers by circulation endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama for president — he received nearly twice as many nods as Sen. John McCain. This year, newspaper endorsements are almost evenly split, according to the American Presidency Project.

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President Obama received 41 of the 100 top newspapers' endorsements this year, while Mitt Romney received 35. However, the president's editorial board support has clearly diminished. Twelve newspapers, which altogether have about 2.7 million readers, endorsed Romney this year after endorsing Obama in 2008.

The largest among them are the New York Daily News, the Houston Chronicle, and Newsday out of Long Island, NY. There are also several swing state papers that have tired of Obama: the Des Moines Register, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Wisconsin State Journal (out of Madison, WI) all backed Romney after favoring Obama in 2008.

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Just one newspaper went the other way, favoring Obama this year after endorsing McCain in 2008: the San Antonio Express-News, which has a circulation of about 139,000.

Other notable endorsements include The New York Times, the largest newspaper by circulation to endorse a candidate this year (neither The Wall Street Journal nor USA Today endorse candidates). The Times endorsed Obama, as it did in 2008. Two of the largest political magazines by circulation, The New Yorker and The Economist, endorsed the president for re-election as well.

Here's a full list of newspapers to back Romney after suppporting Obama in 2008, followed by their circulation:

  • New York Daily News - 579,000
  • Newsday (Long Island) - 398,000
  • Houston Chronicle - 384,000
  • Honolulu Star-Advertiser - 210,000
  • Star-Telegram (Ft. Worth) - 195,000
  • Orlando Sentinel - 174,000
  • Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) - 166,000
  • The Tennessean (Nashville, TN) - 119,000
  • Des Moines Register - 102,000
  • Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) - 100,000
  • Los Angeles Daily News - 94,000
  • Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI) - 83,000
  • Press-Telegram (L.A. Co., Ca.) - 93,000
  • Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster (PA) New Era - 79,000

Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at scline@usnews.com.