- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 20 April 2016
- Written by BRENDAN GREVE | POLITICS CO-EDITOR
In modern times, it isn’t surprising to see or hear many celebrities endorsing, appearing, and supporting political figures. Whether it’s at a rally, through social media sites such as twitter and Facebook, or even recognized news and magazine sites such as the New York Times coming out with articles whenever a celebrity makes a statement whether the statement is political itself or is related to political figures.
Dr. Michael Phillips Anderson, Associate professor of the Monmouth University’s Communications Department commented that “we see it more now with more media outlets and social media.” Professor Claude Taylor added that there is “Too much media saturation on celebrities and even on information sources on policy issues” and that even “Media sources are splintered into party affiliations.” Professor Taylor also mentioned that “Every day people are skeptical of celebrities endorsements.” Mostly because celebrities are not seen or considered to be experts in the political field.
The question however, is do celebrities have any pull on their fans when it comes to voting? Arguably, it was movie star and singer Al Jolson who was first used as the first celebrity to endorse Warren Harding as a presidential candidate in 1920. Ever since then, multiple candidates have attempted to use celebrities to help receive more votes.
Professor Claude Taylor mentioned how celebrities originally were used to endorse products such as cigarettes and tobacco. Initially, these helped sell products off the shelves and companies made more money. Politicians then began to think that they could do the same thing except it would be with votes. However, he explained, “There are only certain celebrities allowed to endorse because their own personal politics align with a party.”
He continued, that celebrity endorsements, in fact, only “Reinforce predisposed decided voters, but have little influence on Independent/con voters.” Professor Taylor noted that it’s also important to keep in mind that “People are brand loyal…the power of persuasion draws brand loyals to see other views of other candidates.”
Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the political science department stated that while celebrities have very little influence on affecting elections, the fact remains that “celebrity endorsements matter more than political endorsements.”
“Celebrity endorsements make the most difference among citizens who are less informed and less involves in the political process. While it is unlikely that a celebrity endorsement could make someone vote for a candidate they really don’t like, the endorsement might be a motivating factor to get out to vote for a candidate that the citizen might support, but not show up at the polls for.”
He continued, “Celebrities have the ability to attract media coverage and reach their fans directly through social media. They are afforded access that most people don’t have. It gives them more influence than the average person, but still less than the candidates themselves (especially among informed voters).” “In 1960, Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte were strong supporters of John Kennedy.”
In fact, Anderson points out that “Many celebrities avoid political endorsements or taking any political positions for fear it could hurt their brand. Michael Jordan was asked in 1990 to support a Democratic Senate candidate in North Carolina. He declined saying, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
Angela Ryan, a junior majoring in both political science and communications commented that celebrity endorsements “can deter those involved in politics from their favorite celebrities who don’t necessarily agree” with their political alignments, statements, or support.
IMAGES TAKEN from trofire.com, eonline.com, huffingtonpost.com and irishtimes.com