Something unusual happened with this newspaper’s endorsements in last November’s election.
All five candidates endorsed by The Daily Star won.
That wasn’t by design. Our selections certainly weren’t predicated on whether we thought we were backing the winning horse. We picked Republicans and Democrats, and we never judge our selections by the outcome of the election.
What we believe was wise, however, was that we limited ourselves to state and federal races in which a large part of the electorate could vote, rather than contests in individual towns and villages.
There is a lot of debate in newspaper circles about whether our endorsements matter. Lots of times, they don’t. But an interesting column a year ago by former Editor & Publisher magazine Editor Greg Mitchell looked at the results of the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections based solely on newspaper endorsements in contested “battleground states.”
In 2004, Mitchell noted, in 14 of the 15 states, the candidate with more newspaper endorsements won. In 2008, he looked at 13 battlegrounds and found that in all but one, the candidate receiving more endorsements took the state.
We went into this year’s elections with the intention of endorsing in races that would affect the makeup of the Otsego County Board of Representatives and the Delaware County Board of Supervisors. Toward that end, we questioned candidates on issues relating to running the county government. In Otsego County, these included the future after MOSA and whether a county manager should be hired; in Delaware County, the proposed bed tax and flood mitigation. All candidates were asked about natural gas development.
Some office-seekers were quite diligent in answering, while others declined to return our emailed questionnaire. In those we did receive — with a few exceptions — there was frankly not a whole lot of difference regarding the major issues.
Of course, for those who ardently support one candidate, it’s unthinkable that we can’t see the superiority of their man or woman. This was clearly relayed to us by some advocates after our recent editorial following an Oneonta League of Women Voters debate, in which the candidates for the most part agreed on the issues.
There are many candidates competing for county office who are competent, knowledgeable and dedicated — on both sides of the political divide. But we did not see one who moved us to say, “This person deserves your vote on Election Day.” We don’t feel comfortable endorsing just for endorsement’s sake, especially if we might have a strong influence on the outcome. This year, we will restrict our opinions to the statewide ballot initiatives.
As always, we encourage voters to educate themselves about the candidates and make their best choice based on their own observations and opinions.