Everyone's making predictions on Tuesday's election with, as usual, the key "swing" or "battleground" or "tossup" states getting the most attention. Experts, or just plain gasbags, can juggle all sorts of information, from reports on the ground to one of seemingly 500 polls. But at my magazine, Editor & Publisher, we do it a little differently on election eve: We predict the winner in key states purely on the basis on newspaper endorsements in that state.
Before you laugh too hard, consider this: In 2004, I did the same thing -- and picked 14 of the 15 tight races correctly, as well as the overall Bush win. Only missed on Florida (still waiting for that recount).
So, with perhaps undue confidence, allow me to take the plunge once again. We have been tallying endorsements at E&P, with much national attention, for the past weeks, with an Obama landslide in that measure (about 250 to 110) nationally. But what about in the specific states?
Using this strict measure, I predict Obama will take 11 out of 13 battlegrounds, losing in West Virginia and in Virginia (where I expect him to actually win).
Here is a rundown, in no particular order. Again, my picks are based purely on newspaper endorsements -- both the number and the size/influence of the papers in each candidate's column.
Forget McCain "narrowing the gap." He lost both big Philly dailies and split in Pittsburgh--gaining the lesser paper there. Obama has taken the smaller dailies by 2-1 with the papers in York, Easton and Erie, among others, switching from Bush. Winner: OBAMA
In 2004, Bush won because he nailed Columbus -- and Cleveland sat it out. This year, Columbus remains in the GOP column but the Plain Dealer went for Obama. The Cincy paper again went Republican. But once again, Obama takes the smaller papers 2-1, with about half dozen switching over from Bush. The Akron, Toledo, Dayton, Canton and Youngstown papers give this state to OBAMA.
Papers in our soon-to-be updated list fully back McCAIN.
We have to give Obama an upset here since he has in the bag all of the leading papers. A loss here would be embarrassing for...me. OBAMA.
We correctly gave this to Bush in 2004 largely because he won the Denver papers. This time around, the Post backed Obama and the Rocky managed to endorse no one. Obama does well elsewhere here, too, with some Bush flip-floppers. OBAMA.
Will I blow this one again? Well, I will stick my neck out and give it to Obama, since, like Kerry in 2004, he dominates the editorial picks. But he only picked up one Bush paper that we know of (Naples) while losing one Kerry backer (Bradenton). Still, I have to be faithful to my formula and pick OBAMA.
With the Indy Star begging off the GOP candidate and remaining neutral, the state leans OBAMA.
Easy OBAMA win.
I have to give this to OBAMA, too, as he held the likely papers and picked up a Bush switcher in Joplin.
The candidates split the two Vegas papers but Obama got Reno, so give this to him, too.
Pretty much a toss up, but Obama leads by 5 dailies to 3 in our most recent count, so he can have that one, too.
Well, I am probably going to take it on the chin here. The endorsements, big and small, in the state proper definitely favor McCAIN. However, I have my cop-out ready. The paper that has the highest distribution in what Sarah Palin suggested was the not-real-America part of the state (in the north) is The Washington Post, which backed Obama. So we'll see if it kicks the butt of the dailies in Richmond and elsewhere.
Greg Mitchell is editor of Editor & Publisher and its hot new blog The E&P Pub. He is completing a book on the 2008 campaign to be published in January. To learn more or pre-order, go here.