POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Most Important Endorsement Is The Last Endorsement (Until The Next Endorsement)

Naturally, the Clinton campaign is all a-stoked over winning the Des Moines Register's endorsement. And, naturally, all the typical Sunday touts are cooing over the impact it's going to have. Waiting for the announcement, the media captured their own anticipation, like so:

The state of Iowa waits with bated breath tonight for the Des Moines Register to drop its much-anticipated endorsement. Once guarded about the timing of the announcement, the Register Web site now invites visitors to be "the first to know!" by signing up for the DMR text message service. (Yes, I signed up.)

For context: the Des Moines Register endorsement proved a key boost for Edwards in 2004. With a mere eight days until the caucuses, the nod to Edwards super-charged his momentum to yield a surprise second-place finish. The Register's endorsement has proved influential in three of the last four cycles; they backed caucus victor Walter Mondale in 1984 and second-place shower Paul Simon in 1988. (The fluke year was 2000, when the Register's endorsement of Bill Bradley fell flat in the two-man race with Al Gore.)

Oh yes! Sign up for the Des Moines Register's text messaging service! Be the first to hear from the paper that picked Paul Simon!

See, there is a pattern to the Register's history of primary endorsements - one you may have already noted - but it's not going to noted by any of your traditional media outlets. Here's a good summation from The Phoenix:

The Des Moines Register has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Big deal.

For 364 days of the year, everyone discusses how newspapers are losing their readership and influence. On the 365th, we're supposed to believe that newspaper endorsements move voters.

How important is the Register endorsement? Well, even including eras when the Internet didn't threaten newspapers, in 2004, the Register endorsed John Edwards; in 2000, Bill Bradley; in 1992, no one, and in 1988, Paul Simon. None won Iowa; none won the nomination.

It won't be long before the typical pundits fail to remind you that, in their infinite wisdom, New Hampshire voters picked Michael Dukakis to be the Democratic nominee. And yet, if you suggest that maybe anyone else would be just as qualified as these sage geniuses to hold first-in-the-nation primaries, you end up getting a pancake skillet upside your head.