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Casting Votes - Hollywood and the Presidential Election

With less than a week to go until the most revolutionary American Presidential election in recent history, both candidates (John McCain and Barack Obama) still have it all to do to convince the masses to vote their respective parties into The White House. With the end of the campaign trail in sight, both McCain and Obama are hoping they have done enough to convince the American people that they should be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.

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John McCain is gaining support from political and action movie heavyweight Arnold Schwarzenegger, action hero Sylvester Stallone and cult icon Tom Selleck.
However, some of Hollywood's A-List have already made up their minds on who they will vote for, and aren't afraid of making their allegiances public. So here is a round-up of some of the key Hollywood stars' allegiances, and how important the star system is as a useful campaign tool to get their respective candidates into the White House, come the election on November 4th.

With Obama generating support from a wide range of celebrities such as actress Scarlett Johansson, producer/writer/actor Larry David and the highest earning TV presenter ever Oprah Winfrey, and John McCain gaining support from political and action movie heavyweight Arnold Schwarzenegger, action hero Sylvester Stallone and cult icon Tom Selleck, we can see that neither candidate is without their endorsements.

So, with this in mind, and other celebrities constantly declaring their allegiance to either candidate (Madonna’s on stage propaganda, showing images of Barack Obama alongside iconic peace activists such as John Lennon and Mahatma Ghandi, whilst juxtaposing images of John McCain with images of Robert Mugabe and Adolf Hitler for example), how important is celebrity endorsement on the campaign trail towards the White House; does this celebrity endorsement influence the public’s vote?

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Celebrity endorsed campaigns successfully lowered complacency, and helped young people believe in their own impact on the political system.
Expectations for this election are higher than ever, with a record number of voters expected. There is an emphasis on getting young adults to vote, and with young adults having their fashion sense, diets, religion (Scientology anyone?) and general life dictated by celebrity endorsements on advertisements, how is the vote for the next President any different?

A study by Washington State University showed that, in a poll of around 300 young adults, that celebrity endorsement is only there as an incentive for younger people to vote, and that their influence wasn't likely to sway the people's votes in their favour. In fact the study states the opposite, stating that "Celebrity endorsed campaigns successfully lowered complacency, and helped young people believe in their own impact on the political system."

However, as a study, this is on a rather small scale. A cross section of around 300 students is far from the widespread vote that is expected by the American government. In a larger poll of 1000 people, the 2004 Presidential election saw 49% of 18 – 24 year olds voting, and, a study by MediaVest showed, that 40% of 18-24 year olds have their vote influenced by celebrity endorsements.

These statistics only reflect the 2004 election, so what does this say about the 2008 election, and how will celebrity endorsement influence the expected amount of younger voters?

If the study from the Washington State University is the more accurate study, then I believe that celebrity endorsement is a good thing. The 2008 election has seen celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Leonardo DiCaprio, Eva Longoria and Ashton Kutcher emphasising and campaigning for the importance of the vote to younger adult. The prominence of actors such as these in this campaign is important, because their cultural importance will make younger people listen, and be influenced to make a vote, but based on the individual’s own values and ideologies.
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Younger people will be more obliged to vote for the presidential candidate that their specific idol will vote for.

However, if the MediaVest statistic is more conclusive, and more accurate, then celebrity endorsement is just as important in a Presidential campaign as things such as religion and policy. Younger people will be more obliged to vote for the presidential candidate that their specific idol will vote for.

If you were to ask my personal opinion, I would like to think that young people have the integrity to vote for the person they think live up to their moral expectations, and the candidate that they believe would be a more positive leader and role model for their country.

However, if I'm being honest, I believe that celebrity endorsement is an integral part in the presidential electoral campaign. In the celebrity endorsed culture that we live in, I believe that if celebrities can dictate how we look, dress, act and even believe in, they can surely dictate who the younger American voter should vote for. I just hope that Hollywood’s elite are backing the right candidate for their country if this is the case, and, come November 4th, I do sincerely hope that I am proven wrong.


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