Study: Celebrity Endorsements Do Not Help Political Candidates
For Immediate Release
Matt Shipman | News Services | 919.515.6386
Dr. Michael Cobb | 919.513.3709
Release Date: 04.26.2010
Filed under Releases
If you’re running for office – and want to shore up support from young voters – you want Hollywood’s support, right? Wrong. Two new studies from North Carolina State University show that young voters are not swayed by celebrity endorsements of political candidates – and sometimes voters like the candidate less as a result of receiving a celebrity’s endorsement.
“Celebrities have been involved in politics for a long time, but there is an increasing interest in the role celebrities play in presidential politics,” says Dr. Michael Cobb, associate professor of political science at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the studies. “We set out to determine if celebrity endorsements influence voting decisions, particularly among young people.”
The researchers did two separate studies including more than 800 college students, evaluating whether endorsements from celebrities – including Angelina Jolie and George Clooney – would affect voting behavior if they endorsed a political candidate. The results? The studies found that celebrity endorsements do not help political candidates – but they can hurt them.
“In one of the studies, for example, we found that by exposing young people to a celebrity endorsement, they liked the candidate less and were less likely to vote for him,” Cobb says.
In addition, the researchers found that a political endorsement can backfire on the celebrities themselves. “Self-identified Democrats who were told in a study that George Clooney endorsed a Republican candidate reported that they liked him less and found him less attractive,” Cobb says. The researchers found similar results among self-identified Republicans when they were told that Clooney had endorsed a Democrat.
“The positive effects of a celebrity endorsement are minimal for politicians,” Cobb says. “Instead, it’s much easier for perceptions of a celebrity to be adversely affected by giving his or her endorsement.”