Lights, Cameras, Vote!

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Posted Tue, Sep 11, 2012

The presidential elections are right around the corner and lately instead of a war of words between the two candidates it has been a war of star power.

Celebrities have been at the forefront of this presidential election with both candidates finding celebrity after celebrity to endorse them; most recently it was Oscar-winning actor Clint Eastwood who was the mystery celebrity speaker at the Republican National Convention.

As far back as the 1920’s celebrities have been endorsing presidential candidates when there were celebrities like movie star Al Jolson known for The Jazz Singer who endorsed Warren G. Harding who became the 29th president of the United States. That trend would continue through the 1960’s with the Rat Pack consisting of stars like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. who supported John F Kennedy in his campaign and now it has stretched into today.

Metropolitan State University of Denver Political Science Professor Robert Preuhs says that while it may not be an increasing trend for celebrities to endorse presidential candidates but that it may be that there are just more celebrities to endorse the candidates.

One of the main reasons for the increase in celebrity presidential endorsements is the availability to those celebrities. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter allow celebrities to post their opinions all over the Internet for everyone to see them and then form their own opinions about the celebrities’ ideas of a candidate. Some celebrities are just casual commentators while others tear into the opposition not holding anything back.

But one of the big questions is whether or not a celebrity can influence a voter.

“Public opinion leaders, fairly well-known, well respected individuals can have influences on peoples perceptions on the candidates,” said Preuhs. “It mostly happens when we have low information elections, that is where voters don’t have a lot of information on the candidates.”

These sorts of incidents happen mainly on the elections outside of the general elections where we don’t have as much information. During the general presidential elections people have a lot more information on the candidates and are able to make decisions without the pull and sway of a celebrity.

Politicians can have all the celebrities they want to endorse them but if one bad celebrity endorsement goes awry then it could really hurt their campaign.

Chair of the Political Science Department at the Metropolitan State University of Denver Dr. Robert Hazan says, “An endorsement by a celebrity involved in a recent scandal may backfire on a presidential candidate.” This could associate the candidate with that scandal and really hurt their chances.

The voters that are in the middle ground or on the fence are the most susceptible to a bad celebrity endorsement where they are trying to make up their minds and someone may lean one way or the other depending on how they fell about the celebrity.

People today follow celebrities moves from the time they get out of bed to the time they go to sleep and come November we will see if they follow those celebrities into the voting booth.

About Kevin Hall

I am currently a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver studying Broadcast Journalism. I am the Executive Sports Producer at Metro's news station, "The Met Report" and am also one of the Executive Producers for the Metro State Broadcast Network which covers everything Metro Sports. Sports is my life and my passion always has been and always will be.

View all posts by Kevin Hall

2 Responses to “Lights, Cameras, Vote!”

  1. Michael Wilson Says:

    Interesting article and good use of experts to drive the story. You might want to break some of the sentences up in to smaller, more digestible bits.

    Reply

  2. Stephen Young Says:

    Professor Preuhs’ idea of a “low information election” is an interesting one. I have usually only heard of “low-information” voters in the mainstream media. This idea really shifts responsibility and makes the reader reevalutate the election.

    Reply

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