The Detroit News has been around since 1873. Until now, it has never endorsed a non-Republican for president (it endorsed no one in two of FDR’s races and sat out the Bush-Kerry contest in 2004).
This year, though, the Detroit News is has endorsed Gary Johnson for president. Of Donald Trump it says:
The 2016 nominee offered by the Republican Party rubs hard against the editorial board’s values as conservatives and Americans. Donald Trump is unprincipled, unstable and quite possibly dangerous. He can not be president.
The paper seems to prefer Hillary Clinton:
Hillary Clinton, has an impressive resume and a presidential bearing. And although we disagree with her nearly across the board on the issues, we acknowledge she has the temperament to be commander-in-chief and leader of both a diverse nation and the free world.
[C]haracter matters. Her career-long struggles with honesty and ethics and calculating, self-serving approach to politics trouble us deeply.
Hence, the endorsement of Johnson. According to the editors:
Johnson has excelled at public service. In his eight years as the Republican governor of New Mexico, he cut taxes while balancing the budget, and left the state in better fiscal shape than when he arrived. He also was a champion of school choice, and the state under his guidance made great strides in improving education.
Unfortunately, Johnson appears clueless when it comes to foreign policy/national security, and not just because he doesn’t know what Aleppo is and could not name a single foreign leader. Johnson wants to decrease military spending, ignore ISIS “until they attack us on U.S. soil,” eschew enhanced interrogation techniques for terrorists, close Gitmo, and abolish the NSA.
When asked whether the United States should have entered World Wars II, Johnson replied: “I don’t know.” This is not a serious guy.
As for Johnson’s running mate, William Weld, he’s a liberal Republican. Weld supported Barack Obama for president in 2008.
For me, the options this year are voting for Trump and not voting for any presidential candidate. Trump is a better option than Johnson because he has a chance to defeat Clinton and is not saddled with the libertarian ideology when it comes to foreign policy and national security.
What impact will the Detroit News’ endorsement have? The conventional wisdom, I think, is that Johnson is drawing more support from potential Clinton voters than from potential Trump voters.
However, the Detroit News is a Republican paper. Thus, I infer that its endorsement is more likely to influence potential Trump voters than potential Clinton voters.
But this assumes that its endorsement is influential. These days, I doubt that most newspaper endorsements matter.