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Can lineup of entertainers at national conventions affect polls?

A political expert weights in on how musical acts chosen for the event can help bump polls
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 12:48 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Wednesday night’s Democratic National Convention lineup featured performances from Billie Eilish and Jennifer Hudson, with more to come Thursday from John Legend, The Chicks, and Common.

But how are those entertainers chosen by the party? Could it be enough to win over voters who are also fans of those artists?

“We know that celebrities can influence their fans in terms of what they think about public policy and which candidates they support,” says David Jackson, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University. He explains how celebrities and music artists can be an essential resource for a campaign.

A lot of thought goes into who is asked to perform.

“Democrats definitely have an advantage in that area since more entertainers and more singers tend to be on the democratic side of things and the progressive side of things,” says Jackson. ”The entertainers they can bring in have huge fan bases who may be interested less in hearing what the Democratic party has to say, and maybe more interested in seeing the artist themselves.”

Jackson also explains how musical acts used to draw a specific fan base at the Democratic National Conventions purposely include artists who are more vocal about political activism. The big demographics for the Democrats: young and diverse voters.

Aside from the live performances, arts who contribute music to shareable videos in support of a candidate can bump the polls long after the convention is over.

One example Jackson gives is Bruce Springsteen. The artist’s song “The Rising” was featured in a segment at the convention on Monday night, which he later reshared in Biden’s tweet featuring the video.

“It’s deliberate planning and production to produce pieces that can then be pushed out through social media that can be experienced or produced or listened to over and over and over again,” comments Jackson.

Announcements have not yet been made about potential entertainers performing at the Republican National Convention, but as far as viewership, Jackson says President Trump has enough fan base and star power of his own.

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