Is the 2012 Presidential Election Just a Popularity Contest?

Political endorsements are no doubt a big part of a presidential candidate’s campaign, but it seems that in this day and age, celebrity endorsements specifically are becoming extremely common.  President Barack Obama has an infinite number of celebrity endorsements, some prominent ones including Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Will Smith. It seems President Obama has many more celebrity endorsements than his competitor Mitt Romney. Getting public support and the support of other politicians is important, but in this day and age where society is obsessed with celebrities, it seems celebrity endorsements are just as vital. Because celebrities have great influence on the general public, they can be an asset to a presidential candidate’s campaign trail. It is estimated that in 2008, Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of President Obama inspired 1 million people to choose him at the polls.

We have to wonder if it is fair for a presidential candidate to have that many celebrity endorsements and supporters in Hollywood. Romney does not have nearly as many celebrity supporters as Barack Obama and therefore may have a slight disadvantage in this election. But if Obama can use his celebrity connections to garner more votes, can we blame him for doing so? We do believe that it is fair game; however, at the same time, it is more important for a president to be the better candidate than to be the more popular candidate. This is in no way saying that President Obama is not qualified to be president; we just believe it is important for voters to be voting for their preferred candidate because they truly believe in him and his policies, not because other people are persuading you to.

Obama is definitely more popular in Hollywood and if he has the public support of celebrities, their supporters may follow suit and support Obama as well, simply because their favorite celebrity does. While there were just as many celebrities at the Republican National Convention than there were at the Democratic National Convention, the ones that attended the latter are far more famous and impressionable than the ones that attended the RNC. A-list celebrities like Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson, Will.I.Am, and Jessica Alba attended the DNC, while others like Janine Taylor, Trace Adkins, and Stephen Baldwin attended the RNC. Singers like Katy Perry have performed at presidential rallies literally wearing their support.

Celebrities should be aware of the kind of influence they have on young, impressionable Americans, but as the young, impressionable Americans, we are the ones that need to be aware. As potential voters in this upcoming election, it is important to do research and vote for the candidate that we believe will be the best for this country. We should not vote for a candidate simply because a celebrity is tweeting and telling us to. Although celebrities can easily sway people’s opinions, it is important for the youth of America to make their own informed decision.

 

Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, November 6th 2012!

–  Rachel BetterbidNicole BetterbidLucy RojoSierra ScellatoShauna Seaver

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2 thoughts on “Is the 2012 Presidential Election Just a Popularity Contest?

  1. Oprah brought a million voters to Obama’s side? If that is fact, it is a horrible notion. The whole idea that people even vote based off the most clever jabs or most effective badmouthing, or celebrity endorsements is terrifying for the fate of our nation. I can’t help but think of “Idiocracy,” the movie that depicts America as a bunch of one-liner loving, advertisement and entertainment zombies, basing their every move on what the various media outlets are shoving down their throats. I wasn’t around in the late 1700s, or the 1800s for that matter, but I’d like to believe that most of the voters were informed, casting their ballots on the most deserving candidate. You say it should be fair game, but it shouldn’t be a game at all. I know that’s impossible to grasp these days, but the President should be the one person we entrust the fate of all we love to, not the best player in a game. Of course, the President can’t control this, he can refuse to allow celebrities to endorse him, but then he may lose if his opponent doesn’t refuse the same thing. The responsibility falls on the American people. But as we learn so much in these IMC classes: Americans are almost completely driven by image and other’s opinions. Brands, if you will. If I stand by Pink Floyd to the end, and a candidate comes out talking about how he funded their latest tour, it’d be hard to say how I’d respond. My love of Pink Floyd is something I pride myself on, and to know the President would be spreading that love to everyone else? It’s still a scary thought.
    It’s entirely believable that the elections are a popularity contest nowadays, as I doubt the majority of voters are deliberate, reflective, clear thinking people who put the fate of the nation above their own benefit.
    But everyone in Idiocracy seemed happy until the Gatorade messed up their water, so it might not be that bad.

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