Politicians are nothing if not savvy marketers, and no modern election season is complete without celebrities lining up to endorse one side or the other. George Clooney‘s record- breaking fundraiser last week for President Barack Obama highlighted the value of having a famous name on your side. Even the venerable Betty White, who usually keeps her political preferences to herself, recently revealed her political preference she’s voting for Obama.
The question has always remained, however, whether having celebrity backers really helps politicians win elections. The answer is not so clear-cut, according to one political scientist.
“Celebrities are always getting involved in politics and no one ever studies them,” said Anthony Nownes, a political scientist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville UT. Although some academics may scoff at the importance of celebrity endorsements, Nownes argues that stars’ political activity often makes news — and that means it has the opportunity to influence public opinion.
Nownes argues that celebrity endorsements – Oprah famously backed Obama in 2008 and comedian Jeff Foxworthy, rocker Ted Nugent and country singer Trace Adkins have said they back Mitt Romney – do influence the way people view political parties, but not always positively.
Nownes contends that celebrities who contribute to political campaigns can make a political party more or less likable, depending on what voters think of the celebrities in the first place.
To test the impact celebrities have on elections, Nownes quizzed more than 500 UT students about their reaction to the information that actress Jennifer Aniston has donated heavily to Democrats and quarterback Peyton Manning has donated to Republicans.
Strange Random Celebrity Quote:
A lot of celebrities, especially when you’re talking about the really big ones, live in what I call the fame bubble. Nobody ever says no to them or challenges them or even teases them. – Kathy Griffin
- Celebrity endorsements tricky for politicians (mnn.com)
- The Tricky Politics of Celebrity Endorsements (livescience.com)
- University of Tennessee professor looks at how stars’ endorsements can help — or hurt — politicians (eurekalert.org)
- Do You Believe in Celebrity Endorsements? (bellasugar.com)
- Check Out Celebrities Who Endorsed Obama (popsugar.com)
- Do You Think Celebrity Endorsements Had Any Bearing in Barack Obama’s Election? (popsugar.com)
- Celebrity Endorsements: Getting Bigger (bellasugar.com)
- Investigate the effectiveness and impact of celebrity endorsement in advertising on a chosen brand : A Sample Abstact (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- Romney’s Worst Celebrity Endorsers (thedailybeast.com)