Globe punts on NH endorsement

Editorial calls for end to Iowa, NH voting first

THE VOTE-COUNTING isn’t the only thing broken about the Iowa caucuses, says the Boston Globe editorial page. Of much more concern, the paper says in an editorial today, is the outsize role played in the presidential nominating process by a state whose demographics are far from reflecting those of the country as a whole. The same, it says, is true for New Hampshire, with its first-in-the-nation primary that comes right after Iowa’s caucuses.

With that, the Globe calls for an end to the tradition of the two small, overwhelmingly white states being the first to vote, a tradition that has allowed them to significantly influence the prospects for candidates. What’s more, the paper declares that it is holding off on an endorsement until after next week’s New Hampshire primary, forfeiting the regional influence it has traditionally wielded to “play kingmaker.”

The paper casts its move as something of a sacrifice based on principle.

“Sometimes, it’s more important to stand up for what’s right than what’s in one’s own interests: More important than wielding our influence on a single small state’s primary, we believe, is to call for the end of an antiquated system that gives outsized influence in choosing presidents to two states that, demographically, more resemble 19th-century America than they do the America of today,” says the editorial.

The case for scrapping a system giving Iowa and New Hampshire so much clout seems sound, and the paper offers a number of alternatives to consider, including rotating the order of early primaries among several more representative states.

WGBH News senior editor Peter Kadzis says the paper “snubs Warren” with its move. Which raises the question of who the paper will, in fact, back once its show of non-endorsement principle runs its course.

An Elizabeth Warren endorsement would represent quite a reversal, considering the fact that the paper already snubbed its senior US senator by preemptively editorializing in December 2018 — a month before she jumped in the race — that she should not run, zinging her as someone who has become a “divisive figure” at a time when the country needs a uniter to defeat Donald Trump. That said, Bernie Sanders hardly seems to be the center-left editorial page’s cup of tea. That leaves the more moderate field of contenders — including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bloomberg (who snagged Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo’s endorsement today).

There is plenty of reason to doubt that newspaper endorsements matter much in the scheme of things, though there’s a case to be made that they could sway primary voters more than general election voters. (Only two of the country’s top 100 papers endorsed Trump in 2016.)

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Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

It’s still something fun for political junkies to speculate about, and campaigns certainly covet whatever size boost an endorsement can bring.

Any reform of the primary process will have to wait at least four years. In the meantime, with their delayed endorsement calendar, the Globe’s editorial board will no doubt be paying close attention to how things stand once all the votes are counted in Iowa and the ballots cast in New Hampshire.