To What Extent Did Celebrities Affect Voting Numbers?

Nov. 6, 2018, was voting day in the U.S. for midterm elections. According to many sites, it was historic for voter turnout, with estimates of numbers around 100 million.  Pew Research Center released a survey that shows more enthusiasm in voting on both sides of the political divide, with President Trump being a big factor in many people’s decision to vote.  

Celebrities also seemed more focused on voting this year.  Stars like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato all encouraged their fans to vote in the election.  Frank Ocean promised merchandise to fans in certain cities who could prove they voted. But how much did these celebrities’ messages actually affect voter turnout?

In the past, young people especially have been more influenced to vote by friends and family according to a study cited by BBC News.  An Ohio survey, also cited by BBC News, found that celebrities had little effect on voters. Yet, there are exceptions. The University of Maryland claims that Oprah Winfrey encouraged more than one million people to support Obama in the 2008 election.  Taylor Swift also affected voter turnout, of youth especially, in this midterm election. Vote.org stated that they received more than 200,000 new voter registrations in the days after Swift’s encouragement to fans. Compared to 13,000 requests a day the site usually receives, this could show her influence.  

While most celebrities seem to have little effect on voting, those like Oprah and Swift show how much can be affected by the right people.  As celebrities begin to hold more and more influence over fans by communicating through social media, the relation between celebrity encouragement and voter turnout may rise. At the present, though, that reality is far off.