Singers and Political Endorsements
Does it matter when a singer you love publicly endorses a Presidential candidate? What is the impact of such an endorsement?
To accurately assess the impact, we would have to look at four groups of people: Those who already know they would disagree, those who already agree, those who haven’t decided yet, and those who don’t care about politics. Or perhaps we only have to look at three, since those who don’t care about politics often don’t care too much about the political inclinations of their favorite singers.
Let’s start with those who haven’t decided yet. If you are in these shoes, is an endorsement from a favorite Southern Gospel singer likely to impact your vote? I think that in most cases, like with most other endorsements, the answer is no. If a candidate starts picking up a steady stream of endorsements, it can create a sense of inevitability, but individual endorsements from individuals (no matter how prominent) rarely have a significant trajectory on the course of the race.
Moving on to those who disagree: Most singers who will endorse a Presidential candidate are already somewhat vocal about their political inclinations. Rarely does an endorsement come out of nowhere. Chances are these individuals already knew they disagreed with the singer’s political views, and chose to listen to his or her music despite those.
Finally, the impact on those already inclined to agree: While it might not impact their vote, it is quite likely to deepen their connection to the artist. The more common points of shared interest a fan has with a given artist, the more likely they are to move from being a casual fan to a committed fan. Of course, it’s not just politics: Shared interests in anything from hunting to movies to (especially in our genre) points of theological doctrine can have the same effect.
One other point. Some artists can get away with this more easily than others. For example, an endorsement from a member of Ernie Haase & Signature Sound would more likely to hurt the group’s reach than deepen fan connections, given their on-stage seeker-friendly approach and their audience’s broad demographic. On the other hand, groups like Legacy Five and Greater Vision leave no question that they are primarily appealing to a conservative audience, making Scott Fowler’s 2008 support for Mike Huckabee and Chris Allman’s current support for Newt Gingrich (see here, with follow-up conversations with fans here) far safer moves.
Would a Southern Gospel artist’s endorsement impact your vote? And would it impact your view of the artist?