Biden the clear choice (say newspaper editorials)
In race with few undecideds, endorsement impact probably limited
THE VERDICT IS in: Joe Biden is the clear choice for president.
So, at least, say the editorial pages today of the New York Times and Boston Globe. Add in the recent Biden backing from the Washington Post and the Democratic nominee has hit the trifecta among the three biggest editorial voices along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the southern stretch of which he knows so well.
Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic governor of Illinois who twice lost races for president to Dwight Eisenhower, was famously said to have been offered encouragement by a woman at a stop during the 1952 race. “Every thinking person in America will be voting for you,” she exclaimed, presumably trying to boost his spirits with word that his election was all but assured. “I’m afraid that won’t do — I need a majority,” Stevenson replied.
Something similar could be said of newspaper endorsements. Beyond the three leading purveyors of East Coast liberalism that have now weighed in, editorial boards across the country will have their say, with an overwhelming endorsement tilt to Biden. He continues to hold a lead in polling, but it’s not clear that any of the cries from editorial boards will necessarily shift any votes. If anything, the place where newspaper endorsements might make the biggest difference is at the far other end of the ballot — in races for low-level offices that voters have not paid much attention to.
In today’s Biden endorsement the Globe says that President Trump, from his shredding of decades-long alliances to sowing racial division and mishandling the pandemic, has been a disastrous leader from start to what the paper hopes will soon be finish. And the editorial makes clear that Biden can be thought of as a transformational figure only insofar as he would bring the country and the presidency back to some semblance of normal. The paper also acknowledges something that might make Biden unique in the annals of the country’s presidency: a candidate seeking the White House with no plan, should he be elected, to run for a second term.
“The Globe is proud to endorse Biden, a candidate who has the potential to restore not just common decency and civility to the Oval Office, but also a proper sense of the president’s role,” says the editorial. ”The fact that Biden is not an ideological firebrand, and is thought unlikely to pursue reelection in 2024 if he wins this November, augurs well for the central challenge that will confront the next president: how to repair the damage from Trump’s four years.”
The Times, too, zeros in on the most elemental arguments for the former vice president and longtime Delaware senator.
“In the midst of unrelenting chaos, Mr. Biden is offering an anxious, exhausted nation something beyond policy or ideology. His campaign is rooted in steadiness, experience, compassion and decency,” says its endorsement.To its credit, the Globe takes an interesting new tack in augmenting its main Biden endorsement with a series of 12 short arguments targeting specific voters. They include arguments tailored to “The Former Trump Voter” and “The Religious Voter.” The paper also makes a plea to those who lean more left, “The Social Justice Voter” and the “Progressive Voter,” to not make the perfect the enemy of the clearly preferable.
Of course, even successful persuasion won’t really matter in Massachusetts, where Biden may well eclipse Hillary Clinton’s 2-to-1 drubbing of Trump in 2016. That makes the targeted argument at “The New Hampshire Voter” — which hits on the swing state’s large senior population and veterans issues — the one Globe mini editorial that might be said to matter in the electoral vote map.