Celebrity political endorsements bring attention but may not change voters’ minds


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State

Singer Bruce Springsteen performs Thursday, Oct. 18, at Hilton Coliseum. His visit was a part of the Obama campaign’s Campus Takeover events across Iowa this week.

Solomon Keithley

Bruce Springsteen came to Hilton Coliseum on Thursday in support of President Barack Obama’s campaign for re-election. Springsteen is one of many celebrities who have endorsed a candidate in the presidential race.

The Obama rally was filled with people both in support of Obama and some just there to enjoy Springsteen.

Jake Burgus, junior in community and regional planning, was in attendance.

“I’m here for Springsteen,” Burgus said. “I think it’s great for the candidates, but I wish both sides would have equal participation. I just wish the students would listen more to the message and not focus on who is coming.”

Celebrities bring a lot of attention and focus to presidential candidates for people who may not pay much attention to the elections.

Jason Danielson, an Ames resident, also attended the rally.

“I’m here for Obama,” Danielson said. “I don’t think celebrities majorly swing the vote. It helps, I’m sure, but I don’t think it’s anything major.”

Celebrity support of candidates is something that happens every election. Celebrities try to get the people who look up to them to support their preferred candidate, follow their lead and elect the nominee they are backing. In 2008, many celebrities supported Obama and helped him get elected, but there are also celebrity endorsements that have not helped.

In 2008, Chuck Norris decided to endorse Mike Huckabee, who aspired to become president but did not make it out as the Republican nominee. Joe Perry supported John McCain in 2008 when McCain fell short to Obama.

David Peterson, professor of political science, gave his view of celebrity endorsements and whether they truly help the candidacy.

“I don’t think they matter much at all,” Peterson said. “They can help get people excited and enthusiastic about the candidate, but they don’t really change minds.”

Macy Sarbacker, sophomore in pre-journalism and mass communication, gave her view on the rally.

“I actually think it’s a really good idea,” Sarbacker said. “I think it gets them they attention they want. For instance, when Justin Long was on campus, they had a lot of really good attention from students. I think it’s a good idea if they find the right crowd. I think the whole campus tour is a very good idea.”

Some of the celebrities backing Obama in the upcoming election include George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Celebrities backing presidential candidate Mitt Romney include Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Johnny Van Zant, Kid Rock, Trace Adkins and former Obama supporter Stacey Dash.