If Mitt Romney doesn’t win Ohio, then his path to the White House rests on a handful of other states, including Iowa. He got a boost there this weekend after winning the endorsements of all four major newspapers: 

As far as newspaper endorsements are concerned, Mitt Romney made a clean sweep in Iowa: all four major newspapers, including the state’s largest paper, The Des Moines Register, backed Mitt Romney. …

The Cedar Rapids Gazette’s editorial board said President Obama “made his mark during his historic first term” with passage of the health care law, reforms to the financial sector and investments in green energy, but they say the president has “come up short” on the economy and debt.

Simply put, the Quad City Times’ editorial board wrote, “We invested heavily in hope back in 2008. Our 2012 endorsement of Mitt Romney comes with an imperative for change.” The Sioux City Journal editorial board offered a similar assessment: “We are neither satisfied nor confident. In our view, change is needed.”

The Des Moines Register’s endorsement wasn’t a total surprise, since the paper had taken a transparent swipe at Obama on its front page last week. But it’s still out of character for the Register, which hasn’t endorsed a Republican for president since Richard Nixon in 1972.

Newspaper endorsements obviously don’t have as much influence as they once did, but these do indicate openness to supporting Romney, even among typically liberal-leaning editorial pages. At the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone writes:

But occasionally there comes an editorial page stance that matters. The Des Moines Register has endorsed Mitt Romney. The Register is not quite the statewide paper that it once was, but it is still clearly the most prominent paper in a state that is closely divided and has 6 critical electoral votes. The endorsement editorial is very much worth reading, because it tends to appeal to the high-minded affluent voters that can be found in large numbers on the west side of Des Moines and in its west side suburbs in Polk County and fast-growing Dallas County to the west. …

The Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows Iowa as 49%-47% Obama, and this endorsement could make a significant difference in this closely divided state. If we assume that Mitt Romney is leading Barack Obama in the following Obama 2008 states, as he is in RCP polling averages—Indiana, the Nebraska 2nd congressional district, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Colorado, Romney can win the presidency without Ohio if he wins Iowa and Wisconsin. The Register endorsement could go some ways to making the difference.

I’m not sure this will change many votes, and there aren’t many undecideds left to influence. But if it’s a reflection of the general sentiment among unaffiliated and Democratic-leaning independent voters in the state, it’s promising for Romney.

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