HOLLYWOOD—Do celebrities really influence voters? When it came to the mid-term elections, Rihanna, Beyonce and Taylor Swift all put their star power behind their candidates. They do that so their fans will follow their lead at the ballot box. So is a celebrity endorsement really worth it? Yesterday’s elections, left many high-profile stars disappointed. Let’s look at Beyonce, she supported Beto O’ Rourke, yet he still couldn’t beat Ted Cruz in Texas.
Than in Florida, Rihanna’s endorsement for Democrat Andrew Gillum, the state’s first potential black governor, still wasn’t enough for him to win the election. In Georgia, Oprah Winfrey, Diddy and actor Will Ferrell were among the celebrities to stand up for Democrat, Stacey Abrams, who was running for governor. She lost to Republican, Brian Kemp.
Swift was campaigning for Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, who lost to Marsha Blackburn. Swift had mixed fortunes though, Jim Cooper, who she supported for the House of Representatives, did win. Tennessee is extremely hard to win, since its one of the deepest red states in the union. Is this a new trend? Actually, celebrity endorsements have been traced back to Warren Harding who won the 1920 U.S. presidential campaign with the backing of a bevy of film stars of the day.
Back in 1960, John F. Kennedy had the support of Rat Pack members Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. More recently, research conducted by the University of Maryland credits Oprah with bringing Barack Obama more than a million votes in the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary. After the 2004 presidential election, a study found that friends and family were more influential than celebrities on the millennials. “Celebrities may have looked pretty, but they were not particularly influential on first-time voters,” the report noted.
According to published reports, a survey in Ohio in 2016 concluded that star endorsements had no effect on most voters’ intentions in that year’s presidential race – and some celebrities actually put people off. An endorsement from Beyonce was, apparently, the biggest turn-off. People are more likely to listen to the likes of Oprah and George and Amal Clooney because their campaigning work in politics, civil rights and activism gives them more credibility. Someone like actor Robert De Niro would also turn a few people off. Great actor, but just like family and business don’t mix, politics and celebrities don’t mix either.
Although he’s recently distanced himself from politics, Kanye West is someone who is not in the “constructive” category. The rapper has been a vocal admirer of President Trump, upsetting many of his fans and other hip-hop figures. Truth be told, while celebrities provide a way of generating coverage and possibly help get a politician’s message across, they can come with disadvantages.
Swift even went as far as posting a message on Vote.org, and posted several videos on her Instagram story on November 6, making a last minute plea to her fans to get out and vote. The “Shake It Off” singer said people shouldn’t underestimate young voters. The young voters could be key to the 2020 election, the increase in voter participation among 18-24 year-olds.
Let’s not forget Madonna, who is a strong supporter of the Democratic Party and many liberal social movements. She came out in support of Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign and has been an advocate for gay rights since her rise to fame in the 80s. In January 2017, Madonna spoke at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., a mass demonstration for women’s rights and progressive causes centered around opposition to the newly sworn-in president Donald Trump.
Rose’s Scoop: J.K. Rowling launched a legal claim against a former employee for allegedly using her money to go on shopping sprees. Rowlings, 53, claims Amanda Donaldson broke strict working rules by using her funds to buy cosmetics and gifts. Donaldson worked as a personal assistant for the writer between February 2014 and April 2017, before being sacked for gross misconduct.