The Web site Colorado Confidential (which I am also involved with) has been tracking the newspaper endorsements for major political races around the state. When looking over the list, I was surprised at how common it was for one candidate or issue to receive the overwhelming majority of newspaper endorsements. Very rarely, in fact, do newspapers around the state split their support in equal proportions.

For example, Democrat Bill Ritter has received virtually every newspaper endorsement in the race for governor. Republican John Suthers, meanwhile, has received virtually every endorsement in the race for attorney general.

The other thing that jumped out at me about the list of endorsements is how much they seem to mimic likely outcomes. Suthers is a virtual lock to win the attorney general race, and Ritter should have little trouble winning the race for governor. Is this a reflection of the power of the newspaper endorsements, or does it show that newspaper editorial boards are pretty good samples of the voting public? I think it’s the latter, because Ritter and Suthers were looking like probable winners long before these endorsements came out.

If you’re judging by newspaper endorsements, the race for state treasurer will be very close (Democrat Cary Kennedy and Republican Mark Hillman both receive several endorsements), and the only congressional race that will be a runaway is in CO-6, where Republican Tom Tancredo received the backing of all of the major newspapers covering his district.

Some of the biggest disparities in newspaper endorsements occur with ballot issues. No major state newspaper opposed Referendum I (equal rights for domestic partners), while no major newspaper supported Referendum J and Amendment 39 (65% spending requirements for school districts); Amendment 38 (easier road for petitions); or Amendment 40 (judicial term limits). We’ll find out how much the endorsement of major newspapers really matters with the results of these ballot measures.