If you thought the New Hampshire Union Leader's endorsement of Hillary Clinton was a shock, consider this: Arizona's leading newspaper just endorsed a Democrat for the first time ever. On Tuesday, The Arizona Republic published its endorsement of Clinton, which also doubled as a biting critique of Donald Trump. Could this newspaper swing Arizona, a traditionally Republican state? The newspaper represents just one facet of the state's political leanings, and polls render a Clinton victory in the state less than certain. Still, however, the endorsement it can't hurt.
Consider the gravity with which it announced its endorsement, along with the fact that this is the first time the board has rejected a Republican candidate.
Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.
This year is different.
The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.
That's why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.
That's history-making. The paper views Trump so poorly that it's decided to go against more than 125 years of precedent and endorsed a Democrat. It gave lots of reasons for why it's supporting Clinton over Trump. It started by looking at "what Clinton has (and Trump doesn't)."
It names her temperament and experience, as well as her ability to compromise and "lead with intelligence, decorum, and perspective." Plus, it praises her for withstanding years of scrutiny that "would wither most politicians." And that's before the publication even got to the meat of it.
It acknowledges her flaws, namely the private email server and donations to the Clinton Foundation. But it also goes ahead and endorses her anyway, because "despite her flaws, Clinton is the superior choice," the editorial board argued:
She does not casually say things that embolden our adversaries and frighten our allies. Her approach to governance is mature, confident and rational.
That cannot be said of her opponent.
Clinton retains her composure under pressure. She's tough. She doesn't back down.
Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads.
That's beneath our national dignity.
When the president of the United States speaks, the world expects substance. Not a blistering tweet.
The editorial board singles out foreign policy and immigration reform as key issues that she leads on. It also touted her ability to lead on gender equality, as well as her identity as a political centrist, not a "wild card." It even suggested Trump may not appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court if elected.
But will any of this matter in the state? Polls haven't been taken in Arizona since the beginning of September, before Clinton's bad weekend with her "basket of deplorables" comment and pneumonia episode. FiveThirtyEight currently predicts Trump has a 76 percent chance of winning the state and its 11 electoral college votes. But there is still time before November. The op-ed and debates could still sway voters.
The editorial board hopes it has an effect. They name Clinton as the only hope for the country's increasingly diverse population while saying Trump will be a "recipe for permanent civil discord." Clinton on the other hand can take the opportunity to "reach out to those who feel left behind. She can make it clear that America sees them and will address their concerns." What remains to be seen is if Arizona will let her.