Journal Article

Can Celebrity Endorsements Affect Political Outcomes? Evidence from the 2008 US Democratic Presidential Primary

Craig Garthwaite and Timothy J. Moore

in The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

Volume 29, issue 2, pages 355-384
Published in print April 2013 | ISSN: 8756-6222
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1465-7341 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jleo/ewr031
Can Celebrity Endorsements Affect Political Outcomes? Evidence from the 2008 US Democratic Presidential Primary

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Identifying the effects of political endorsements has historically been difficult. Before the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Barack Obama was endorsed by talk show host Oprah Winfrey. In this article, we assess the impact of this endorsement using, as measures of Winfrey’s influence, subscriptions to her magazine and sales of books she recommends. We find that her endorsement increased Obama’s votes and financial contributions, and also increased overall voter turnout. No connection is found between the measures of Oprah's influence and previous elections, nor with underlying political preferences. Our results suggest that Winfrey’s endorsement was responsible for approximately 1 million additional votes for Obama.

Keywords: D7; D72

Journal Article.  12354 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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