It is only September 3rd and the Richmond Times Dispatch has already announced their endorsement for President. Their announcement is interesting for two reasons: precedent and timing.
For the past nine elections (36 years), RTD has endorsed the Republican nominee. Win or lose, RTD has been the epitome of what is black and white and red all over. Reagan, Reagan, Bush, Bush, Dole, Bush, Bush, McCain, Romney. And now Johnson. Breaking the red streak for a third party candidate speaks to the general discontent of Americans this election cycle. The 2016 election has shown that we are living in a post-fact society and people are not happy about it. On the right side of the aisle, Trump has been consistently inconsistent in his statements causing conflicting messages. The Democrats have had leaked email scandals and questions around Clinton's truthfulness. Campaigning has been reduced to subtweets and hashtags. Historically, America has been a two-party system and voting for a third party has been synonymous with a wasted vote. Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states but will endorsements such as the RTD help him gain enough momentum to be a viable option for those dissatisfied with the mainstream options. Is Gary Johnson the breath of fresh facts and conviction America needs? The RTD editorial board seems to think so.
But the RTD endorsement has a plea tucked in the middle: LET GARY DEBATE! The endorsement has come out earlier than in the past and it seems it is strategic to help propel Johnson onto the stage during the September 26th Presidential debate. The debate commission will invite candidates who poll above 15% in five national polls. The poll results from ABC News/Washington Post, CBS News/New York Times, CNN/ORC, Fox News, and NBC News/Wall Street Journal will be released in mid-September. Johnson is currently polling around 9.2% so he has only a couple of weeks left to boost his numbers by a significant percentage. Not only will 5.8% be a big jump, but the poll sample may change from registered voters to likely voters. Likely voters is a smaller sample size and Johnson has been polling worse among likely voters. So it seems RTD decided to time their endorsement to help in Johnson's Hail Mary strategy over the coming weeks.
But the real question for Richmonders is who will RTD endorse next? The RTD mayoral forum is scheduled to take place on September 15th and with eight candidates, there is no telling who the endorsement will go to but it will be fun to speculate in the meantime. Every year, the editorial board releases an editorial creed that serves as guidance for their decisions so it should stand to reason that their mayoral pick will hold their standard. The key elements of their creed are:
- truth, objectivity, and facts
- right reason
- moral absolutes
- right to property
- free enterprise
- limited government
- strong national defense
- fiscal conservatism
The question stands, which candidate exemplifies all of their standards? Alternatively, did RTD's endorsement of Johnson lay the groundwork to pick one of the lesser known mayoral candidates?