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, 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 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 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: