At least 128 musicians, producers and other highly influential people in Hollywood have openly declared their support of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders — a notion that calls to question whether celebrity support really affects the outcome of an election.
“We — the undersigned artists, musicians and cultural leaders of America — are excited to endorse a new vision for our country,” representatives for the Artists and Cultural Leaders for Bernie Sanders penned in an open letter. “It’s a vision that pushes for a progressive economic agenda. It’s a vision that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and gets big money out of politics.”
There has always been a bit of disagreement when it comes to whether celebrity endorsements have a real effect on a politician’s campaign.
In 2008, TV host Oprah Winfrey openly supported then-candidate Barack Obama and it was calculated by Craig Garthwaite and Timothy Moore, researchers conducting a study on the effects of her endorsement, that it earned him about one million votes, securing him the primary nomination over Hillary Clinton.
“I do believe that when certain celebrities that have a good reputation back a certain candidate, that can affect how people who like that celebrity think about the politician and think about how they view it,” said Elizabeth Higgins, sophomore pre-nursing major. “ Personally, I very much judge what I think about a politician from their actions, especially how they perform in debates.”
Alternative band Red Hot Chili Peppers headlined a benefit concert at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles Feb. 5 in support of Sanders, charging anywhere from $40 – $2,700 for tickets to go toward his campaign. The show sold out and the band played their most popular songs, plucked parts of the “Star-Spangled Banner” and held a tribute to late rock artist David Bowie. The concert played a video of Sanders and the band members ended the show by pleading with the audience to elect him into office.
“I think that it really has a big effect on the younger generation if the celebrities really do have an impact on who you don’t like,” said Fernando Ramirez, sophomore criminal justice major. “If you don’t like a celebrity then I would tend to think you wouldn’t vote for the candidate they support.”
With many celebrities leaning liberally, Clinton and Sanders have the most Hollywood supporters. Strategically speaking, candidates can use celebrities to structure their campaign and allow them more time with the audience of said artist.
Despite political researchers finding that there is no major positive or negative outcome related to having an artist speak out in favor of any particular presidential hopeful, it exposes them to a certain demographic that they may not have connected with otherwise.