Our View

Friday, Nov 02 2012 11:00 PM

Vote Obama or Romney? You tell us

By The Bakersfield Californian

On Friday, The Californian published its 22nd endorsement for the Nov. 6 election -- 11 propositions, two local measures and nine candidates for office. The only major contest missing from our list of recommendations was the presidential race. So here it is.

You're on your own. You've read the newspaper articles, watched the debates, scrutinized the campaigns ads, fact-checked the chain email -- you have done all that stuff, haven't you? -- so by now you've surely made a decision in this, the most expensive (and inescapable) presidential campaign in history. There's nothing The Californian's editorial board can say that you haven't heard, no light bulb of undeniable, vote-changing truth we can screw into your cranium.

So, we are joining the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and several other U.S. newspapers and sitting this one out.

The Californian has withheld endorsements in certain races before, and it's not a decision we take lightly, nor is it a new policy going forward. So why are we choosing not to this year? Because, unlike in local races (and some past presidential campaigns), we had no special access to the presidential candidates. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have little use for newspaper editorial boards in this state because the Electoral College renders California -- the biggest electoral prize in the nation -- a done deal. That leaves us to base our decision on the same job-performance histories, news reports and televised debates that our readers have access to. The reasoning that traditionally constitutes the underpinnings of editorial page endorsements is that editorial staffs have more access to candidates and information about policy than the average reader. We can ask candidates about the issues that are most relevant to our specific region. But that's just not so anymore -- not when the candidates are spending virtually all of their time in swing states like Ohio and Virginia.

Fortunately, that has not been the case with the local races and state ballot propositions we've issued endorsements on. Our editorial board has met face-to-face with candidates and campaign representatives from almost all of the races, in a few cases interviewing the players by conference call. Since August, we've devoted a significant amount of time and resources to this effort. Ahead of time, we researched issues and voting records, fact-checked discussions afterward and followed up with candidates and campaigns when their information required further clarification or explanation. Then the editorial board met to debate and hash out its positions. We're proud of the time and thoughtfulness we've devoted to these races, the outcomes of which directly impact our readers. If only we could have done the same for the race for president.

We have no hidden agenda, no desire to mask our position. We just happen to believe there's no shortage of information on this, the most Internet-centric presidential campaign ever. We only ask that voters base their final decisions on indisputable facts, not speculation or hyperpartisan fantasy.

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