Do Celebrities Help a Campaign?

Jay Z gave a concert for Hillary Clinton Friday night during which he used “the N-word, F-word and motherf-----.” Donald Trump brought up the language used by Jay Z during the performance and compared it to the criticism that he received last month for using vulgar language.
He used every word in the book last night. He used language last night that was so bad and then Hillary said, 'I did not like Donald Trump's lewd language.' My lewd language. I tell you what, I've never said what he said in my life. — Donald Trump
Did Jay Z’s performance, or Trump’s criticism of the language he used, change any votes? Probably not. Fans of Jay Z are not apt to be shocked by his choice of words, and many of Trump’s supporters probably don’t know who Jay Z is.

Star power

Politicians of both parties like to get the endorsements of celebrities and often appear with them on stage. The theory is that the ‘star power’ will rub off on the campaign and gain votes. The risk is that the celebrities can easily go off message and create problems for the campaign.
We have many, many surrogates who say many, many things. Many of these surrogates do not agree with everything I say. And I do not agree with every approach and everything that they say. And that’s the simple reality. — Sen. Bernie Sanders

Kennedy and the rat pack

The campaign of John F. Kennedy in 1960 captured the nation’s interest as members of the “Rat Pack” went all out for Kennedy. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin were the star faces of the Kennedy campaign, and the relationship continued after JFK became president. Kennedy’s opponent, Richard Nixon’s celebrity endorser in the 1960 campaign, was Jackie Gleason, who was no match for Frank Sinatra in star power.

Oprah was game changer

The 2008 endorsement from Oprah Winfrey was a game changer for Barack Obama. Oprah’s appeal crossed party and racial lines, and many refer to Oprah’s support of Obama as the “most celebrated celebrity endorsements of all time.”

Trump was a celebrity

In this year’s campaign, Donald Trump was a celebrity long before he ran for president, and he has made less use of ‘star power’ on the campaign trail than Hillary Clinton. Trump’s TV exposure had already made him a household name and arguably, without that pre-existing name recognition he would never have been able to win the primaries. Prior stardom also worked for Ronald Reagan who, like Trump had near universal name recognition when he ran for president.

Surrogates for Clinton

The last few days of the campaign have seen a surge in celebrity appearances on behalf of Mrs. Clinton, while Donald Trump has been going it alone. Clinton’s campaign schedule for the weekend included former President and husband Bill Clinton, who is in Colorado and Nevada over the weekend representing Clinton. President Obama is in North Carolina, and Mark Cuban was at rallies for Clinton in Pittsburgh and Detroit. Vice President Joe Biden is in Pennsylvania for Hillary and Bernie Sanders is working Iowa and Colorado on her behalf. Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder are putting on performances for Hillary this weekend.
What these events accomplish for Mrs. Clinton is to create last minute enthusiasm among her supporters that may translate into them making an extra effort to go to the polls next Tuesday. In effect, Hillary will be able to schedule twice the number of rallies in the closing days as will Donald Trump, who relies only on his personal status as a celebrity to fill arenas.

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