How Black Hollywood Can Help Obama

The president has countless entertainers on his side. Will it matter on Election Day?

Tatyana Ali (John W. Ferguson/Getty); Barack Obama (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty);Gabrielle Union (Fernando Leon/Getty)
Tatyana Ali (John W. Ferguson/Getty); Barack Obama (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty);Gabrielle Union (Fernando Leon/Getty)

(The Root) — Though the winner of the 2012 presidential election remains far from certain, the winner of one contest between the campaigns of Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama has already been decided.

When it comes to celebrity endorsements, there is no contest. The Obama campaign has a virtual lock on support from Hollywood, hip-hop and just about every other corner of entertainment. But when it comes to the contest that really matters on Election Day, do celebrity endorsements matter?

Celebrities such as Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Kerry Washington and recently the cast of HBO’s The Wire have all voiced their support for President Obama. They have opened their wallets at fundraisers and hit the campaign trail to aid in his re-election efforts.

Like many Republicans before him, Gov. Romney has enjoyed far less celebrity support, with TV star Kelsey Grammer one of the few high-profile actors to publicly declare his support for the GOP candidate.

According to Ari Melber, a former national staff member for the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign, this gap in star power is unlikely to keep the Romney campaign up at night. “I don’t think people who are simply famous affect voters of any age,” Melber told The Root. He added that there are certain celebrities who can actually make a difference to a campaign, but rarely in the ways that people may think.

He recalled from his campaign experience that certain celebrities think their time is best spent hobnobbing with the candidate or appearing at high-profile, heavily covered events. Celebrities can be useful, he noted, but usually at smaller events where they can function as surrogates speaking to voters on behalf of the candidate when the candidate is unavailable. Their presence could convince certain voters to attend a gathering who might otherwise be unlikely to attend.