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Why celebrity endorsement of a candidate should not matter.

Every election year, celebrities endorse the candidate they believe will serve the country best. However, a famous individual endorsing a candidate does not mean it matters more than opinions from experts or friends. They are simply someone with a personal opinion like everyone else. 

Celebrity endorsements do not influence the general population as much as one would think. According to Forbes, 65% of respondents said that the way celebrities vote does not influence them. All the celebrity does is provide awareness for a possible candidate. 

In fact, recommendations from family members and friends hold much more sway. Marketers understand this concept and spend years learning how to master the importance of word of mouth. This is the best way to give a product, service or person credibility. 

“According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising,” said Forbes. 

However, star power still does hold some sort of sway. The political candidates for the past couple of elections have basically been celebrities. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are extremely plugged into the media in different ways. 

USA Today said, “Trump, the most famous Hollywood entertainer-turned-presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1980, could plausibly boast he’s a bigger star than any celeb who might endorse him.” 

However, there is a difference between star power and celebrity endorsement. How famous the candidate is has nothing to do with the other people who choose to support them.

According to USA Today, Hillary Clinton had the likes of Katy Perry, Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Anniston behind her. Celebrity endorsements did not help her in the end and Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election despite Hollywood support. 

If Hollywood had more sway over politics, most winning candidates would be liberal, as the entertainment industry is known for its liberal ideals. Although, there are a few exceptions, like Kanye West. 

BBC said, “There are many factors — especially the change of occupant in the White House — that mean young voters are more motivated to vote, and to vote Democrat.”

The scientific data also infers that there is not a correlation. Two studies done by North Carolina State University found that young people are not influenced by celebrities and their endorsements of candidates. In fact, this endorsement can cause a negative affiliation associated with the chosen political candidate.  

Still, the media emphasizes the way certain celebrities vote. Perhaps this comes from a culture that values how many followers one has rather than being an expert opinion. Social media has created a world that does not value genuine connection or knowledge. 

Celebrity endorsement is not the only thing that can sway someone’s vote. Culture, partisanship and religion influence the way someone chooses to vote.

“I think that comes down to partisanship and ideology, and that then is connected with cultural and entertainment preferences,” said David Jackson, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University, to the Atlantic. 

Educating oneself on political systems and listening to experts explain what causes people to vote a certain way will help one to see that there is more to voting than celebrity endorsement. 

However, celebrities are relevant in encouraging others to vote. 

“Musicians joined the 1964 Freedom Summer drive to register Black voters in Mississippi. Rock the Vote partnered with MTV and helped sweep Gen X into the political fray in the early ’90s. P. Diddy’s slogan “Vote or Die” targeted hip-hop listeners in 2004,” states The Atlantic. 

Kylie Jenner’s bikini picture on Instagram sent thousands of people to the polls in 2020, according to The Atlantic.  That is where celebrities can genuinely help the process. 

So, celebrities should put more effort into encouraging others to vote rather than endorsements of candidates. In turn, the news media should cover more about what experts in political science are saying rather than celebrity opinion. This will lead to a world that values connection over fame.