Are Young Voters Swayed By Celebrity Endorsements?
By Kat Piracha
The nation’s future is tied to young voters. But are politicians appealing effectively to this group?
As the November election approaches, will candidates come up with more creative methods other than celebrity endorsements to coax young voters to choose them?
Candidates are using a number of well-known people to help bring out the vote. However, many young voters appear not to care much for celebrity endorsements. In interviews with students from Marymount Manhattan College who are assumed to be the age group most affected by celebrity endorsements, none were even aware of the celebrity in the campaigns. After they were informed, they did not feel compelled to sway their vote.
When young voters were asked what about their candidates’ image made them want to vote for them, Terrence Bennett, a 21 year-old Theater Arts Major at Marymount Manhattan College, who voted for Sen. Barrack Obama in the primary, said, “Obama and his wife seemed like a better team. We’ve already seen Clinton’s administration. At first I was for either Clinton of Obama, but it was mainly Obama’s wife who’s image made me choose Obama.”
Terrence Bennett believes Sen. Obama
and his wife Michele make a good team.
According to the Youth Vote Coalition, an online database focusing on young and first time voters, the majority of voters for this election term are 18-30 years old. This sub-group of voters accounts for 64%, of registered voters.
Sen. Obama seems to be creating an image that he is an average guy who has come a long way thanks to the help and belief of the everyday American. Recently, Obama wrote an email to members of his mailing list comparing himself to opponents Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton. In it, he thanked the more than one million contributors to his campaign and highlighted that he, unlike opponents, “haven't taken a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. Our campaign is responsible to no one but the people.”
This appeal seems to be successful. Obama won 11 consecutive primaries and caucuses before losing in Ohio and Texas on March 4.
One possible reason for Sen. Clinton’s lack of success against Obama in appealing to younger voters may be her choice of endorsements. Back in November, Clinton had Barbara Streisand send a letter to all the members in her information email list, a letter compelling them to keep supporting Clinton. Although Streisand is no obscure figure, of all the celebrities to embrace Clinton, a legendary, yet slightly retired star may not be the best person to have on her campaign given the youthful demographics of voters. Scarlet Johanson, a very popular young movie actress, has endorsed Obama, without invitation.
To make the obvious contrast, Streisand is by far a more accomplished singer and film star, who was the first female to direct a film she starred in. she is also an Academy Award winner. Appropriately, like Hillary Clinton, Streisand is a woman who has achieved much. Scarlet Johanson, a 23 year-old actress from New York City, began acting in 1994. She has been nominated for Academy Awards but has yet to win. In January, Johanson rallied for Obama in Cornell.
Anjoli Khatri says she is
drawn to Clinton’s experience.
Anjoli Khatri, a 22 year-old Psychology major said she is going to vote for Clinton if she makes it to November. “I initially compared her to Obama. But his lack of experience is what motivated me to vote for Hilary,” she said. “Hilary has been more specific about her goals as president. Where as Obama has simply used the word change and not specified to what change that would be.”
Marc Zahakos a 20 year-old Psychology major said he is voting for Clinton because he feels, “She carries herself really well, and even during her husband’s last term in office she stepped her game up, which I believe helped her popularity in gearing up for the current campaign.”