Celebrity endorsements can sway the elections

Holly New

Glitz, glamour and… tour bus?

Hollywood and politics have mixed for years. Celebrities have a long history of endorsing politicians, from Marilyn Monroe’s support of John F. Kennedy in 1960 to Frank Sinatra backing Ronald Reagan in 1980, and this year is no exception.

According to CNN.com, famous celebrities endorsing President Barack Obama include Eva Longoria, Beyoncé and George Clooney, while former Gov. Mitt Romney has Chuck Norris, Kid Rock, Donald Trump and others on his team.

But do these endorsements actually sway voters?

A February 2012 study from the University of Maryland predicted Oprah’s endorsement for then-Senator Obama in 2008 accounted for over one million additional votes in his favor, helping Obama win the Democratic primary. A startling statistic, if you ask me.

Apparently, many voters actually listen to celebrities. But can celebrities get hurt after endorsing certain political candidates? A May 2012 study out of the University of Tennessee found “people sometimes change their opinions about celebrities after learning about their political leanings.”

So, if you don’t like Romney, it’s quite possible that you might start disliking Norris (but let’s face it, who doesn’t like Chuck Norris?).

Don’t think this could happen to you?

Look back at Oprah: After endorsing Obama, a CBS poll found her favorable rating had dropped from 74 to 61 percent, and then after appearing on the campaign trail, her favorability rating plunged to 55 percent, according to a 2008 Los Angeles Times article.

In May 2011, she ended her television show, the Oprah Winfrey Show, to start her own network, OWN. Reports have estimated that OWN may has lost as much as $330 million since its inception.

We could speculate all day if her endorsement was the cause, but I’ll let you do the speculating.

My overall question, however, is: Should we care who celebrities endorse?

I am often amazed that so many people would be swayed to vote one way or another because of who supported them.

I don’t know about you, but Hollywood personalities don’t dictate my preferences. I’ve never been the kind of person to buy a certain product because so-and-so likes it.

However, I am the kind of person who might stop liking certain actors and musicians because of what they say. If celebrities want to support a candidate on their own time, be my guest. But I am the kind of person who likes to surround myself with people and activities that support my beliefs and ideals. And sometimes, celebrities like to be extremely adamant about what they like and who they support. For me, that’s a turn-off.

Go shopping for candidates. Assess the risks and benefits. Watch the ads, and yes, even notice the endorsements.

Just be careful who you “buy,” because an election is hard to return.