Celebrity endorsements should not affect GOP race

Months ago, many Americans were excitedly debating the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency. And though he is not a part of the current race, he certainly has not disappeared from the scope of national politics. 

In fact, only days ago, the billionaire businessman and celebrity proudly endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican Party candidacy in the 2012 presidential race. Trump seems to have a significant impact when he opens his mouth and speaks — his promise to run for president months ago definitely put the news media, and ordinary Americans, on their toes.

But will his public support for Romney make any significant effect in the GOP race? Probably not.

The reality is that Trump, along with every other celebrity who has chosen to endorse a candidate, will not have a lasting effect on which candidate wins the nomination (or the presidency). Some small-minded Americans may choose which politician or party to support based on whether or not their favorite public and famous figure has endorsed them.

That practice is, as previously stated, small-minded. Some thought it was great that Oprah endorsed Obama four years ago, or that legend Chuck Norris threw his support behind John McCain (and now Newt Gingrich).

A public announcement of support from a group of rich, far-from-average celebrities should not, and does not, have a significant impact on the race. Americans ought to focus instead on what really matters: each candidate’s track record, vision and plans for the future of America, and certainly not the opinion of some celebrity who probably has not been significantly affected by the downturn in the American economy.

Thankfully, polls show Americans believe this as well.

A Pew Research Center poll done this month shows that more than 64 percent of Americans stated an endorsement by Donald Trump would not sway their candidate support, while only a mere 13 percent said it would make them support a candidate more. In a Pew poll done last month, only 8 percent of Americans said a Trump endorsement would cause them to support a candidate even more, while more than 26 percent said a Trump endorsement would actually cause them to support a candidate even less. 

Even if you are a fan of Romney, or Trump for that matter, these statistics should come as good news. The fact that less than one-tenth of Americans would choose to support a candidate solely based on the fact that a celebrity has done so is proof for me that Americans might be moving in the right direction in becoming a better informed citizenry.

Perhaps it might be different if it were a different celebrity; maybe Oprah and others from the 2008 election had a larger impact than Trump’s endorsement is likely to have. Or maybe, and hopefully, it is because Americans are aware of what matters during a nomination race and during the actual presidential race, and it certainly is not rich celebrities.

Booey Mittelstadt is a freshman film-television-digital media and political science double major from Chattanooga, Tenn.