How celebrities can impact elections


Max Goldberg/Iowa State Daily

Actress Busy Philipps meets with Hillary Clinton supporters outside the Agora on Oct. 17, 2016, just 21 days before Election Day.

Rachel Ori

The 2016 election may be long over, but the impact that it left on society will be lasting.

More so in 2016 than ever before, celebrities spoke out to let their followers know who they were voting for. Whether they posted a picture on Instagram or tweeted a hashtag, it didn’t take much for fans to figure out who their favorite star was voting for.

Some celebrities took their support a step further and went out to campaign for their candidate. Iowa is known for being a swing state, helping elect former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before going for President Donald Trump in 2016. Because of this, the state is a hot spot for candidates and celebrity campaigners, with college campuses being some of the most popular places to speak.

“I think it’s a great way to get a response from college students,” Nicole Stout, sophomore in environmental science, said.

Actress Busy Phillips visited Iowa State on Oct. 17, 2016, to speak with students about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Phillips wasn’t alone in coming to Iowa State. Actress Danai Gurira of the hit show “The Walking Dead” visited campus on Oct. 11 to let students know why she was voting for Clinton.

Donald Trump Jr. visited Iowa State on Nov. 1 in support of his dad.

Stout was at the Agora the day that Gurira spoke.

While Stout said that she had already decided who she was going to vote for by October, she said that “it was interesting to hear [Gurira’s] perspective and to see it from a different angle.”

Throughout the 2016 election, both candidates made a point to shout out their major celebrity and political endorsers, often bringing them to rallies and having them give speeches to show their support.

But political science professor Jonathan Hassid said that politicians care more about endorsements than the average person.

“Endorsements are the equivalent of a slap on the back,” he said.

Citing the 2016 election as an example, Hassid said that endorsements can be used to get positions in a candidate’s future cabinet.

“Look at [Gov.] Chris Christie and Trump,” he said. “Christie wasn’t genuinely a fan of his — he was looking out for himself in the long run.”

Others have echoed the statements by Hassid, with Stout saying that celebrity endorsements “didn’t heavily impact [her] vote.”

As election day neared, some students still weren’t sure who to vote for, or if they were going to vote at all. Because of this, they looked at celebrity opinions to help make up their minds.

“I would say it did make a difference,” Iryl Bacdayan, sophomore in bio-chemistry, said in regard to celebrities endorsing candidates.

“I considered a lot of things before I voted, but scrolling through Instagram and seeing so many stars voice their reasons for why they were voting for whichever candidate helped seal my decision,” she said.

Since the aftermath of the election, some of the same stars who boasted their support of either candidate have continued using their platform to spread awareness on political issues. This trend is set to continue heading into 2018 and beyond.