If Jennifer Aniston were to show her support for the Democratic Party like George Clooney has recently backed Obama, it would do more harm than good for the party's success, according to a recent study of celebrity endorsements in politics.
Anthony Nownes, a political scientist at the University of Tennessee, conducted an investigation into whether celebrity backing can significantly influence voting decisions. His method was surprisingly simple. He recorded over 500 students' reactions to the news that Aniston heavily donates to the Democrats and Peyton Manning donates to the Republicans.
This political "news," of course, was merely Nownes' fabrication, and there are some glaring problems with his method. Not only did Nownes focus his study on a narrow demographic (college students in Knoxville, Tennessee) to make suppositions about the voting community as a whole, his choice of celebrities wasn't exactly fair. Manning is an alumni of the University of Tennessee and is popular with the students while Aniston had no special advantage in the area. So, it's not surprising that Nownes' results showed that Manning has the power to help Republicans and Aniston can hurt the Democrats.
The part of Nownes' results, however, that seem to have the most importance is that celebrity endorsements of political candidates aren't necessarily a good thing. It all depends on how a particular voter feels about both the celebrity and the candidate. If either part of the equation is disliked, it will likely have a negative effect on the other.
"If we think of the political parties as 'brands,' these results suggest that information about which celebrities 'use' each brand can affect people's attitudes about the brands," Nownes noted. According to the scientist, the opposite also holds true. "Throwing their support behind a presidential candidate doesn't help the celebrities much. They don't get much positive from it, and they might get negative."
What can be learned from this is Jennifer Aniston should stay out of the political spotlight and George Clooney may soon regret organizing the show-stopping fundraiser for President Barack Obama last week.