The Des Moines Register Has Made It's Endorsements

by Chris Tognotti

On Saturday, Iowa's biggest daily newspaper finally weighed in officially on the 2016 presidential race, just days from the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses ― the editorial board of the Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. According to Amalie Nash, the paper's executive editor and vice president for news, the endorsements were the result of six weeks of interviews with the candidates (the GOP field probably took a bit longer than the Democrats did, based on sheer size alone), with a six-person editorial board probing them on a variety of issues, and fact-checking their subsequent claims. And, of course, some consideration was given to that ever-ethereal, intangible quality of "leadership."

All in all, the choices don't come as much of a surprise. It'd be a stretch to ever call it a surprise for Clinton to win an editorial board endorsement over Sanders, even despite his recent surge in the polls in Iowa ― she's an establishment powerhouse, and she netted the Des Moines Register's endorsement over then-Senator Barack Obama back in late 2007. Furthermore, there's a case to be made that Sanders' insurgent campaign doesn't really need these kinds of traditional, officious endorsements as much as Clinton's does, with all that expectation and organization built up around her.

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On the Republican side, however, things are a little more interesting. While Clinton may be embattled in Iowa, and she's currently trailing in the subsequent New Hampshire primary, she's still the clear frontrunner by virtue of big leads in a number of crucial, delegate-rich states. You can't say that for Rubio, however ― it's billionaire businessman Donald Trump who's been dominating the state and national polls on the GOP side, and even if you look past him, the next closest is Texas senator Ted Cruz.

But Cruz has been weathering a pretty rough couple of weeks, with multiple attacks on his campaign coming from within his own party, including establishment elder statesman and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole. As such, he can probably take this in stride ― at least Trump didn't get the endorsement. In fact, it was pretty simple for anyone to see that Trump never had a shot at this thing, as he's been embroiled in a bitter, thin-skinned war of words with the Des Moines Register for months, and has barred the paper from past campaign events.

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Basically, on the one hand you've got exactly what you'd expect, and on the other, you've got a pick that's a distant enough longshot that it seems destined to go unfulfilled. At present, Rubio is polling at about 11 percent in Iowa, compared to figures in the high-20s for Cruz and Trump, which is well out of striking range ― unless this endorsement were to carry an enormous weight.

Luckily, however, we won't have to wait too long to see how it all shakes out. The Iowa caucuses will be held on Monday, February 1st, and it's going to be pretty exciting ― at long last, votes will actually be cast, and you'll have something firm and concrete to look back on.