The upcoming US presidential election is set to be a historic event – and celebrities haven’t underestimated its importance.
Stars have been coming out in their hoards to encourage fans to vote, from Mel Brooks, 94, making his first political video, to Mike Tyson, 54, revealing he’ll be voting for the first time ever.
Some celebs have gone down a pretty creative route, with Tana Mongeau offering nudes to anyone voting for Joe Biden, and Demi Lovato penning a scathing song about Donald Trump, which she performed at the Billboard Music Awards.
They’ve definitely caught people’s attention – but just how much impact are they going to have?
Metro.co.uk chatted to professor of political science, David Jackson Ph.D to find out.
Kylie Jenner’s bikini photo
Kylie’s recent bikini snap was more than a simple thirst trap, as she urged fans to register to vote by visiting the link in her Instagram bio, which took them to vote.org.
It was later revealed that the star, 23, caused a 1500% spike in site traffic with her photo – but that, of course, is not the be-all and end-all of voting.
‘Registration is an important step, but only the first step,’ David explained. ‘The next step is getting people actually to vote, which may prove more difficult.
‘One could say it’s quite tacky, but that’s where U.S. political culture is these days, with a President who says and does tacky and offensive things on a daily basis.’
Demi Lovato’s song Commander In Chief
Demi has made her feelings towards the current president as clear as day with her new song, which she performed at the BBMAs in front of a huge ‘VOTE’ sign.
With the Sorry Not Sorry hitmaker, 28, accusing Trump of ‘lining his pockets’ while the US is ‘in a state of crisis’, it could be pretty influential.
‘This is a much more traditional example of an artist using their art to make a political statement,’ David explained. ‘It is a protest song in the long tradition of protest songs in the U.S.
‘As of this writing, it’s had about five million views on YouTube. A song like this is more likely to reinforce and inspire opponents of President Trump than it is to persuade his followers to change their minds.
‘In an election where turnout is the most important factor, it could be influential.’
Tana Mongeau’s #BootyForBiden campaign
Tana, 22, certainly took the cake, as it were, in terms of creativity, with the YouTuber pledging to send nudes to fans voting for Biden.
While there was some concern it counted as voter fraud, she later told Insider: ‘No, I was not campaigning illegally for votes.
‘It really was just a funny thing to post, and in every form people sent in they were just being silly and sarcastic back. I’m not out here asking for ballots on OnlyFans, because that would be illegal and weird.’
However, according to David, it’s a pretty clear representation of the current state of US politics.
‘When the assertion was made that the proposed transaction may violate the law, Mongeau claimed she was being sarcastic and would not really trade nude photos for proof of a vote for Biden,’ he said.
‘Not sure I can really comment further, except to say it’s tacky and transactional, and a clear reflection of the worst aspects of U.S. political culture these days.’
Looking back, how did celebs influence the 2016 election?
It’s not the first time celebs have been vocal about voting, with Beyonce bringing fans to tears as she spoke about the prospect of the first ever female president, and Lady Gaga speaking directly to young people ahead of the 2016 election.
‘Celebrities brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but since she lost, many pundits argue that celebrities had no effect or a negative effect,’ David reflected.
‘This is simplistic and inaccurate. Clinton earned more votes than Trump, they were just distributed in the wrong states to win the archaic Electoral College.
‘Also, Clinton’s celebrity support did not win her the Electoral College, but the data is clear that some celebrities deployed in the right way increase the likelihood of a voter supporting a candidate.’
So, how are celebrities going to impact the 2020 election?
‘There aren’t many undecided potential voters, so there isn’t much that is likely to persuade people right now, celebrities included,’ David explained.
‘Celebrity involvement is likely to strengthen existing attitudes and perhaps serve as the extra push some voters need in order to make the decision to get out and vote.’
However, social media definitely plays a part, as he pointed out: ‘Social media strengthens the ability of celebrities to influence voters, because it connects voters with celebrities more closely than traditional media appearances.’
And as for Trump being an established celebrity before becoming president?
‘Donald Trump ascended to the presidency directly from the celebrity ranks, with no previous public service or military service,’ he continued.
‘This ends the ability of conservatives and Republicans to argue that celebrities should stay out of politics, which was their position previous to getting behind Trump.’
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