Over the years, countless celebrities have used their fame and status to bring attention to contemporary political issues. From presidential elections to the war in Darfur, from rebuilding New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to constructing schools in Malawi - celebrities have run the gamut when it comes to adopting political positions about the world. Despite the hype and headlines that tend to accompany these celebrity positions, one can only wonder: do celebrities' political endorsements matter?

Oprah Winfrey Makes Us Think So …
Few celebrities possess the brand equity that Oprah Winfrey enjoys, and her famous book club offers an excellent example of the extent to which celebrity support can influence popular opinion. Oprah's book club choices often resulted in dramatic increases in a selected title's sales. Similarly, Oprah's endorsement of Barack Obama for president back in 2007 is believed to have resulted in an additional one million votes for him during the 2008 presidential election, according to one study published in the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization Advance Access. Notably, she had never previously endorsed a candidate for president, a fact which may have lent more credibility to Oprah's support for Obama. The Oprah Winfrey effect on the 2008 presidential election supports the notion that certain celebrity opinions do matter.

Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and P-Diddy Made a Difference!
But Oprah Winfrey is not the only celebrity to whom the American public listens. One Washington State University study concluded that online voter registration efforts supported by celebrity Get-Out-The-Vote promotions contributed to increased voter participation rates among 18- to 24-year-olds during the 2004 presidential election season. Which celebrities were involved in this campaign? The group included Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Dr. Dre and P-Diddy, among others. Again, this demonstrates just how strongly celebrity encouragement weighs in on the actions of the American public.

Building Awareness of Issues Abroad: Madonna and George Clooney
Madonna and George Clooney, two well-known "A-list" celebrities, are excellent examples of celebrities who have used their celebrity "megaphones" to voice their opinions regarding political issues, both at home and abroad. While these issues may not necessarily yield vote or action on the part of the American public, the result of these celebrities' outspokenness is a heightened awareness of situations abroad. For example, George Clooney has been a vocal critic of humanitarian issues in the Sudan for several years and was even arrested earlier this year due to his activism, which generated quite a few headlines. Meanwhile, Madonna's condemnation of the Russian government's conviction of punk band Pussy Riot brought the band's legal plight into the mainstream media for several weeks. In either case, the American public's awareness of these issues was enhanced by these celebrities' awareness.

The Bottom Line
Under certain circumstances, influential celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey are able to influence public opinion by making selective endorsements for elective offices, and some celebrities have been able to leverage their fame and popularity to bring awareness to controversial foreign affairs. In the case of the upcoming presidential election, many celebrities have placed support behind either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. These men have some deeply contrasting views on how to address America's economic depression and overwhelming debt, so you may want to consider how these plans would affect your finances before considering the political opinion of people who make more money in a year than you will earn in your lifetime.

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    How Bernie Sanders Has Avoided Big Money (Mostly)

    Bernie Sanders hasn't entirely avoided PACs with his fundraising, but he has gotten a lot of bang for the buck
  2. Investing News

    Obama Wants to Double Wall Street Regulation

    President Obama wants to double the budgets of the SEC and the CFTC over the next five years.
  3. Economics

    Does Big Money Hurt or Help Clinton and Rubio?

    Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton lead their parties in raising money from Wall Street. Is that a help or a hindrance?
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    The Evolution of Obamacare Since Its Inception

    Find out whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has lived up to its lofty projections from 2010.
  5. Investing News

    Chipotle Served with Criminal Probe

    Chipotle's beat muted expectations and got a clear bill from the CDC, but it now appears that an investigation into its E.coli breakout has expanded.
  6. Stock Analysis

    China Mobile: Just How Big is It? (CHL, CHU, CHA)

    The story behind China Mobile, the biggest company you might never have heard of.
  7. Markets

    The (Expected) Market Impact of the 2016 Election

    With primary season upon us, investor attention is beginning to turn to the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
  8. Economics

    Trump vs. Bloomberg: How They Compare

    If Bloomberg enters the presidential race how will he compare to billionaire brethren Trump?
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    5 Economic Changes to Expect if a Republican Wins in 2016

    Discover the five most likely economic changes the United States can expect if a Republican wins the presidential election in 2016.
  10. Term

    What Is Section 1231 Property?

    Section 1231 property is depreciable business property that’s held for a year or longer.
  1. What is the Social Security administration responsible for?

    The main responsibility of the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is overseeing the country's Social Security program. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Where are the Social Security administration headquarters?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is headquartered in Woodlawn, Maryland, a suburb just outside of Baltimore. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is the Social Security administration a government corporation?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is a government agency, not a government corporation. President Franklin Roosevelt ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does the role of Medicare/Medicaid affect the drugs sector in the U.S.? (UNH, ...

    Medicare and Medicaid have enormous influence on the pharmaceutical, or drugs, sector in the United States. For instance, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the ethical arguments against government subsidies to companies like Tesla?

    The ethical argument behind government subsidies is that they should be put into place to help industries that will, in turn, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What do I do if I think an accountant is in violation of the Generally Accepted Accounting ...

    The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) promulgates generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in the United ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  2. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  3. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  4. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  5. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
Trading Center