The Columbus Dispatch broke from a centurylong tradition of endorsing Republican presidential nominees on Sunday when it announced its support for Democrat Hillary Clinton in this year’s election.
“For us, the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not pleasant, but it isn’t difficult,” the Dispatch editorial board wrote. “Republican candidate Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States. Democrat Hillary Clinton, despite her flaws, is well-equipped for the job.”
“The Dispatch traditionally has endorsed Republican presidential candidates, but Trump does not espouse or support traditional Republican values, such as fiscal prudence, limited government and free trade, not to mention civility and decency,” the board continued. “We are disappointed that so many Republican leaders have accommodated a narcissistic, morally bankrupt candidate who is so clearly out of step with those values.”
The announcement came just weeks after the Cincinnati Enquirer, another major newspaper in Ohio, endorsed Clinton on the grounds that her opponent, Republican Donald Trump, presented “a clear and present danger” to the United States.
Although both newspapers in the swing state have a track record for endorsing Republican candidates, the Dispatch endorsement comes with rich historical significance.
It has been called “the most coveted newspaper endorsement in the U.S.” by Time magazine, with some presidential candidates even making an in-person appeal to editorial board members in hopes of securing their support.
Prior to Sunday’s announcement, the Dispatch had not endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate since Woodrow Wilson in 1916, although the 2004 race between George W. Bush and John Kerry was said to be a close contest.
With Ohio voters currently split on which candidate to elect for president, it’s not clear how much these endorsements will sway the electorate. Still, a handful of newspapers across the country are flipping their traditional stances — and making a statement in doing so.
The Dallas Morning News, The Arizona Republic and The San Diego Union-Tribune are among the conservative-leaning papers that have also endorsed Clinton in this election. Other publications, like The Atlantic and USA Today, have rarely made presidential endorsements, but felt it was necessary this election cycle to denounce Trump.
The Dispatch’s endorsement came just days before the deadline to register to vote in Ohio — Tuesday, Oct. 11 — and the start of early voting on Wednesday, Oct. 12.