Celeb Endorsements Don't Hold Much Sway Over Voters

When Oprah Winfrey endorsed the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, many thought the guy could become a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination. After all, this was Oprah!

But a study by E-Poll Market Research, which researches celebrities and brands, finds that celebrities are not as influential in politics as they may be in selling products, fashion, entertainment and books. In fact, says E-Poll, some endorsements may actually work against the candidates.

According to E-Poll's survey of 2,237 voting-age Americans, only 16% claim that the endorsement of a candidate by a celebrity they admire would positively impact their overall perception of that candidate.

"The cult of personality has certainly begun creeping into people's lives," says Gerry Philpott, president/CEO of E-Poll Market Research. "However, when it comes to bread-and-butter issues such as healthcare, national security and the economy, voters turn to family, friends, civic and church leaders, and media as influencers in their voting decisions."



Asked to list the celebrity endorsers who would have the strongest positive influence on their perceptions of the presidential candidates, Winfrey had the largest impact by far, mentioned by 20% of respondents, followed by George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bono and Al Gore.

Democratic candidates are slightly more likely to be helped by a celebrity endorsement than Republicans, but the impact is still very minor.

E-Poll's study shows that 10% of Americans would actually have a more negative perception of a candidate if backed by a celebrity endorsement--even if they liked the celebrity. Of the celebrities that might have the most negative impact for a candidate, Rosie O'Donnell leads, followed by Tom Cruise, Madonna, Jane Fonda and Donald Trump.

Younger Americans ages 18 to 24 are most likely to be positively influenced by a celebrity political endorsement--26%, per the survey. Celebrities mentioned most often by this younger group include Winfrey, Jon Stewart, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt.

If candidates are looking for that narrow margin with swing voters, they shouldn't look for a celebrity cure. Independents and swing voters are the least likely to be influenced by a celebrity endorsement, the survey found, with only 13% saying they would be positively persuaded.

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