by Rose Brennan & Megan Dreher, Senior Writers
For the first time in history, the New York Times formally endorsed two Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 19. And, also for the first time in history, both of the selected candidates were women.
Among the still-crowded field of 12 candidates for the Democratic nomination, two candidates in particular caught the eye of the editorial board of the New York Times. Those candidates were Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The New York Times has endorsed presidential candidates as far back as 1860 with the endorsement of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Since then, the Times has endorsed 40 candidates for the general election, and 24 of those 40 have gone on to win and hold office.
While the incumbent President is a member of the Republican party, the Times has not endorsed a Republican candidate for the general since 1956, showing favor to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower over Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson. While these endorsements are for the Democratic primary, they offer insight as to where the Times editorial board is leaning for a candidate in the general election.
Members of the Manhattan College community expressed mixed reactions to the Times’ endorsements. Camryn Kidney ‘21 is a native of Massachusetts and while she has been a supporter of Warren since her questioning of the current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at the senate confirmation hearing in 2017, she was impressed that both endorsed candidates were female.
“In terms of representation for women, I think that’s very important. Being able to see someone like yourself and say ‘Wow, people like me really can break glass ceilings as large as reaching the presidency’. But I also think that in different ways, Warren and Klobuchar really could be considered the strongest candidates, especially Klobuchar whose politics I agree with a little bit less but still she is the perfect candidate for someone who wants someone more moderate like [Joe] Biden, but doesn’t want them with all of the baggage,” said Kidney.
Even still, Kidney has chosen to commit her support to Warren, who is comfortably coming in at third place in recent polls.
“She always seems up to date on what the big issues are right now. I think that really resonates with a lot of voters. She is very open to learning and wants to listen to people, taking what they have to say and implementing it into their campaign. The more she does that the more support she’s going to garner,” said Kidney.
Jonathan Keller, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of political science at the college, and is much more skeptical of the dual endorsement by the Times. His belief is that the endorsements represent two different parts of the Democratic party, but ultimately the endorsements are and will continue to be meaningless for both Warren and Klobuchar in the candidacies.
“They want to represent the two parts of the party, Klobuchar is the centrist, moderate Democrat and Warren is the leftist progressive. In a different era, it would be a big boon to both of them, especially Klobuchar who is not doing well in the polls. A lot of people think that if she could gain some momentum could actually do very well.”
When asked if this endorsement will do just that for Klobuchar, Keller answered no, for Klobuchar and Warren alike.
“We are living in a moment now where elite opinion is of much less value than it used to be. Institutions that carried a lot of legitimacy and weight, like the New York Times, were very valuable to have support from. When Barack Obama got that endorsement, it was very valuable because he was a somewhat unknown commodity, running against well known politicians. It’s not against the New York Times, it’s that we’re living in a total moment where elite, expert opinions from these institutions carry a lot less weight.”
With the Iowa caucus approaching, it is the support of local newspapers like the Des Moines Register and any New Hampshire newspapers that these candidates should be seeking support from, in Keller’s opinion, that will hold any sort of weight. Even so, Keller calls this influence, or lack thereof, of journalistic or even political endorsements a “degradation of our respect for elite opinion.”
The Times’ editorial board first chose to elaborate on their decision to endorse Warren. Calling her a “standard bearer for the Democratic left,” the New York Times highlighted Warren’s major strengths as a candidate, including her commitment to anti-corruption legislation and her serious plans for policy-making, calling upon her mantra of “I have a plan for that.”
Klobuchar, however, is a much more moderate candidate. The New York Times views her as a less polarizing candidate than those further to the left.
“Her lengthy tenure in the Senate and bipartisan credentials would make her a deal maker (a real one) and uniter for the wings of the party — and perhaps the nation,” the editorial said.
To close, the article simply said, “May the best woman win.”
Editor’s Note: Rose Brennan is also an editorial intern at The Riverdale Press.