Keller @ Large: Celebrity Endorsements Almost Never Work

BOSTON (CBS) – Political endorsements are a common feature of campaigns. But it’s not every election that you see an active candidate endorsing one of his opponents in the final days of the race.

And yet that’s exactly what happened the other night when former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, the Libertarian Party nominee for vice president, went on a national cable TV show and after admitting that his ticket couldn’t win and trashing Donald Trump as a “threat” to the nation, insisted that Hillary Clinton was “reliable” and “honest.”

If it wasn’t an endorsement, then those feathered birds with webbed feet you see swimming in local ponds aren’t ducks.

But will Weld’s endorsement of Clinton matter? Probably not.

Past research has found that very few voters are moved by endorsements of any kind, from celebrities, community leaders, or the media.

However, there are occasional exceptions.

After Oprah Winfrey, at the height of her fame, endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 election cycle, academic researchers claimed it was worth a million votes to Obama. Are there any celebrity endorsers in the current campaign who could match that clout?

I doubt that gun-loving rock star Ted Nugent’s endorsement of Trump is likely to move the needle much. When it comes to the demographic groups where Trump needs to make up ground, Ted is likely to drive away as many voters as he attracts.

Ditto for shock-jock Howard Stern, who is backing Clinton despite – or maybe because of – all the interviews Trump has given him over the years.

The overwhelming message from voters is – thanks, but we’ll make up our own minds. Unless, of course, you are Oprah.

More from Jon Keller
Comments

One Comment

  1. In this election Clinton has some endorsement firepower that Trump cannot match in the form of the First Lady and, to a lesser caliber, the First Lady’s husband.

    1. Both endorsements make outstanding reasons to vote for Trump. If Obama is against you, you know you’re doing something right.

  2. Olde Owle says:

    I view “celebrity endorsements” in the same category as “too good to be true” offers from used car salesmany and opinion journalists.

    Interesting, but not necessarily relevant or impactful.

    As for Oprah’s endorsement? It’s on a par with that of Whoppi Goldberg. About as biased and agenda-driven as possible.

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