Moving America Forward

What’s in a Celebrity Endorsement? When It Comes to Voting, a Lot

October 19, 2018
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What’s in a Celebrity Endorsement? When It Comes to Voting, a Lot
Celebrities Vote
Celebrities from Amy Schumer to Sean Hannity are taking to social media to encourage their fans to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images (Schumer) and Ethan Miller/Getty Images (Hannity)
In the chorus of digital voices, Dems are leading the tune.

How much power do celebrities wield with their social media-mediated endorsements? When it comes to encouraging the apathetic to vote in the 2018 midterms, now less than three weeks away, probably more than you think.

At least one study, of how celebrity endorsements may have impacted the 2016 presidential election, supports this notion. According to study author Nives Zubcevic-Basic: “In a cluttered world where myriad messages fight for the attention of time-starved consumers, celebrity endorsers serve as arbiters of public opinion.” Much as brands rely on celebrity endorsements for their products, just seeing a beloved celebrity with an item can create positive psychological associations for fans. But for that endorsement to do well, the celebrity’s public image and the “message” of the item need to align.

In 2008, it’s estimated that Oprah’s endorsement of Barack Obama generated as many as a million votes for him. But there’s a theory that her endorsement of Hillary Clinton in 2016, along with hundreds of other celebrities, wasn’t enough to override the fact that President Trump was a celebrity endorsing himself.  

For this year’s midterms, celebrity endorsements seem to be leaning left. Of the top 500 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit posts of the link to vote.gov, 53 percent were from people with “significant” cultural influence (this category includes more traditional celebrities like Sean Hannity and Debra Messing, but also verified social-media influencers like Twitch streamer Hutch). Of that 53 percent, it’s interesting to note that more than 86 percent of posts were by people with left-leaning views (such as Taylor Swift.)

A total of 43 posts were from politicians, with 79 percent of them identifying as Democrats, 12 percent as independent and 9 percent as Republicans. But it was the non-politicians, celebrities like Mark Hamill, Kathy Griffin and Sean Hannity, doing most of the legwork. More than 88 percent of non-politicians encouraging voter registration through the vote.gov link fell on the left of the aisle. In many cases, one person posted the link multiple times: Kathy Griffin, Padma Lakshmi and Billy Eichner led the pack in terms of frequency, with 23, 13 and 11 posts, respectively.

While both the GOP and the DNC have created their own sites to encourage voter registration, the vote.gov website is a nonpartisan website sponsored by the U.S. government.

Will celebrity involvement in the midterms have a different effect at local levels? Or are we seeing a new era in endorsement of candidates? We’ll find out on Nov. 6. Until then, double check your voter registration status, register if you still have time and take a look below to see if your favorite celebrity is working to get their fans involved with this election:

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

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