Recent celebrity endorsements may not move needle in Texas governor’s race, political analysts say

Over the weekend, Beto O’Rourke received endorsements from Willie Nelson and Harry Styles. Political analysts said these may not help convince voters to change their vote, but it may help to bring more voters to the polls.

"Rarely are political endorsements ground-breaking events," Prairie View A&M University Constitutional Law Professor Dr. Eddy Carder said.

But Progress Texas President Ed Espinoza said they do.

"It keeps in the news, it generates a bit of excitement for the people who care about that campaign," he said.

Out of all the endorsements, celebrity, business, political candidate or party, Dr. Carder said the one that carries the least amount of weight is celebrity endorsements.

"We’re bombarded with them at this time of the year almost to the point we don’t pay much attention to them," Dr. Carder said.

Espinoza said endorsements don’t have the same effect they had in years past.

"People have more access to information and opinion and analysis than they’ve ever had before, whereas maybe 20 or 30 years ago, you only knew what you read in the newspaper or what you had heard from people who were immediately around you," Espinoza said.

Dr. Brian Smith, a St. Edward’s University Political Science Professor, said a celebrity endorsement can give a candidate credibility, and depending on the celebrity, a lot of money. He said endorsements don’t work if they’re expected.

Willie Nelson is known to back progressive candidates.

"People who support Beto and like Willie Nelson were already going to vote for Beto," Smith said. 'How it could have moved the needle is all of a sudden Willie Nelson says I’m supporting Greg Abbott, that would have been a game changer."


Harry Styles attracts a younger crowd.

"Younger voters are often more liberal than the general population and are going to vote democratic, so if you’re able to get people who don’t normally vote, out to vote, that’s how you start moving the needle," Dr. Smith said.

Smith said this last-ditch effort may be too late.

"There are not a lot of shopping days left until Christmas, early voting is starting in a couple of weeks, election day is only about a month away, so so many voters have already made up their mind via partisanship, by following the campaign, so there aren’t a lot of undecided voters," Smith said.

Others said endorsements during this time help close the deal.

"There are people that maybe don’t follow the regular season of baseball, but they tune into the playoffs," Espinoza said. "It’s very similar with people who maybe don’t follow politics every day, but they do tune in October, which is also the political playoffs you could say, and it helps to have a bit of energy and enthusiasm and little more information."

Smith said an example of an endorsement that was successful was when Oprah Winfrey endorsed Obama early in the 2008 election. He ended up beating Hilary Clinton in the democratic primary.

Early voting starts Oct. 24.