Do celebrity appearances help or hurt a political campaign?

sean astin clinton youngstown


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Several celebrities have been on the campaign trail recently, drumming up support for their pick for president, but do these appearances actually help or hurt the campaigns?

Candidates depend on these individuals, often referred to as “surrogates,” to lend enthusiasm and credibility to a political campaign.

“Politics doesn’t get people excited most of the time and you’re trying to generate excitement, enthusiasm, particularly as we’re getting closer and closer to November,” said Youngstown State Political Science Chair Dr. Paul Sracic. “We want to make sure that people are excited about the candidates. That they show up to vote.”

According to Sracic, surrogates can have a way of bringing political savvy and celebrity to the trail while fulfilling different needs at different times.

“They could have sent out some assistant secretary of somebody like that or a former government official, and a couple people would have shown up and they would have gotten the same information about the candidate. Instead, you bring in someone, a celebrity everyone wants to meet, and that gets people out,” he said.

They’re also helpful because not even Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can be in two places at once.

On Thursday, actor Sean Astin campaigned at YSU while a bus tour full of Ohio mayors stopped in Warren, all for Clinton’s camp.

“The nuts and bolts of the success comes from the individual citizens talking to each other, and if they can send somebody that people might like around to say, ‘Hey, thanks for what you’re doing,’ that’s what they’re going to do,” Astin said. “I’m thrilled to be able to play a small part in what is a bigger movement.”

He is famous for his roles in blockbusters like “Rudy” and “Lord of the Rings.”

Astin met with about 150 volunteers and students to urge them to register to vote before the deadline on October 11. He also discussed Clinton’s plans for building the economy.

Trump has also used his power of celebrity to gain ground in Ohio by appealing to voters.

“Donald Trump’s advantage is he’s both a politician and a celebrity, so you get those things combined at his rallies,” Sracic said. “Hillary Clinton is a politician. Not really the same kind of celebrity as Donald Trump is, so using the celebrity power is just another way to get people to show up.”

Although they love lending a hand and their support, surrogates know they can’t win for their candidates. However, they still say any help they can give in the next 47 days until the election is worth it.

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