Johnson's newest backers are his biggest to date. The Detroit News endorsed him last Thursday, one day after a town hall event on MSNBC in which he struggled to name a foreign leader he admires. The Chicago Tribune, one of the nation's 10 largest newspapers, followed on Friday.
The Tribune and the Detroit News joined the Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch in endorsing Johnson. The Winston-Salem Journal gave its support to Johnson shortly after the former governor of New Mexico asked "what is Aleppo?" during a TV interview.
All five papers behind Johnson have traditionally supported Republicans for president. In its 143-year history, the Detroit News had never backed a non-Republican. Before endorsing hometown candidate Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, the Chicago Tribune had never backed a Democrat and rarely declined to support the GOP nominee.
Other reliably conservative newspaper editorial boards have shunned Trump and endorsed Hillary Clinton. The list includes the Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer, Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle.
In case you've lost track, that is nine right-leaning editorial boards at daily newspapers that have spurned the Republican nominee and endorsed one of his rivals. And in what could be a sign of things to come, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, Dorothy Rabinowitz, wrote last week that electing Clinton "is what stands between the American nation and the reign of the most unstable, proudly uninformed, psychologically unfit president ever to enter the White House."
Many more newspapers will issue endorsements in the next five weeks. Trump still has a lot of time left to get on the board. But the real estate magnate struggled to accumulate endorsements — from the press and from fellow politicians — during the GOP primary. The National Enquirer endorsed him, as did the New York Observer, but the Observer is owned by Trump's son-in-law, and the Enquirer is, well, the Enquirer. Both are weeklies.
Trump's only high-profile endorsement by a daily paper during the primary season came from the New York Post, which gave him a lot of grace for being a "rookie candidate."
"Should he win the nomination, we expect Trump to pivot — not just on the issues, but in his manner," the New York Post editorial board wrote in April. "The post-pivot Trump needs to be more presidential: better informed on policy, more self-disciplined and less thin-skinned."
Trump has not pivoted. And so it will be interesting to see whether the New York Post backs Trump again this fall.
At this point, the trend is clear: Papers that should theoretically be slam dunks for Trump are either turning to his chief rival or a third-party candidate who did not even qualify for the general election debates. The impact of each individual endorsement is probably small, but a wave is building.