Will voters ROAR for Hillary Clinton?

Last Thursday I was reading somewhat dated research by Gallup ® from October 24, 2007 (the same spot we are in the current Iowa Caucuses from eight years ago) that found that celebrity endorsements of candidates are not a factor in voting. The research found that “the vast majority — 81% — say her (Oprah’s) endorsement will make no difference to their vote for president.” By Saturday afternoon I found myself at the Katy Perry rally for Hillary Clinton outside the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner 2015.

In the days before the weekend dinner it was announced that pop superstar Katy Perry endorsed Hillary Clinton for President and would hold a concert/rally for Clinton before the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner this Saturday. Here is the Perry Tweet (from October 19th) heard round the world:

I’M PROUD TO STAND WITH @HillaryClinton! Don’t miss your chance to win a trip to Iowa to hang with me @ the rally: http://hrc.io/1

Katy Perry has over 76 million followers on Twitter. (How is that even possible?!) Hillary Clinton wants enough caucus voters on February 1 to give her to top ticket out of Iowa and keep that momentum going through the primary nominating calendar. As of October 21 that single tweet had been retweeted almost 5,000 times and favorited over 10,000 times. These are staggering, impressive and jealousy-inducing figures.

The Clinton campaign utilized their own social media and extensive email lists to create additional buzz and interest about the endorsement/event. To add fuel to the fire, it was also announced last week that Bill Clinton would join Katy Perry at the rally.

Did the Katy Perry concert attracted attention? Yes, a huge amount of social media buzz and earned media coverage has resulted. Both entertainment media and main-stream media are writing stories about the event. The Washington Examiner even printed the entire Katy Perry endorsement in whole. In her endorsement, Perry says “I admire Hillary’s fighting spirit, believe in the vision she has for a better America, and embrace her policies (and pant suits!)” Katy signed her letter with “High five and fist bumps galore.”

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley wisely decided to ride the media wave created by the endorsement by singing a Taylor Swift song on national television, ABC’s The View. O’Malley has gotten some buzz and earned media from the effort.

Will the Katy Perry event/endorsement convert people into active Hillary event participants? In the immediate short term, we could try to determine how many of the parking lot concert attendees actually made it into the Hy-Vee Hall to participate in the Jefferson Jackson Dinner and cheer for Hillary. I expected a huge drop-off. I’m not sure of the actual numbers.

The longer term question is “will Katy’s celebrity endorsement impact voting?” We will have to wait until a cold night in February to see if the Hillary crowd looks like a Katy Perry crowd. I’m doubtful about this too.

Can the Katy Perry earned media and social media strategy transform individuals and attract new people to presidential politics?
Granted, the research from 2007 I referred to earlier feels like ancient history in 2015 and the influence of social media and pop culture is stronger now than ever before. But it will remain to be seen whether the Perry endorsement translates into votes.

I found Katy Perry to be beautiful, talented, smart, articulate, empowering and committed. She asked the crowd if they planned to vote and encouraged them “you know you have the power, right?”. She also talked (briefly) about a couple of actual policies. Then, most impressive of all, she stuck around for the Jefferson Jackson Dinner listening to speeches and engaging (holding up signs) at the right moments.

Did Katy Perry help to create crowds, buzz, and fun and influence pop culture coverage of the presidential caucuses? The answer is undeniably yes when she has over 76 million twitter followers and hordes of entertainment press coverage. Will that translate into supporters for Hillary Clinton on caucus night 2016? It remains to be seen, but it sure will be fun to watch. The whole experience was just plain fun from glitter microphone and to flag gown to the confetti bombs. So thank you Katy Perry for coming to Iowa and we hope you come back again soon. In the meantime, I’m going to turn up the music.