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Good Question: Do Celeb Endorsements Make A Difference?

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Here in Minnesota, star athletes have weighed in on the marriage amendment.

Lynx star Seimone Augustus has joined Vikings punter Chris Kluwe in opposition to the amendment, while former Viking Matt Birk supports it.

But do celebrity endorsements make a difference? Good question.

Voters we talked to in downtown Minneapolis say a celebrity political endorsement for a candidate or an issue will not affect how they vote.

Obviously, celebrities think it’s worth it to weigh in. Former Viking and current Baltimore Raven center Matt Birk is starring in videos for the “Vote Yes” side. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has been vocal on the “Vote No” side.

The latest to speak up is Lynx Star Seimone Augustus. She said she hopes her stand will sway voters.

“I would hope so, I mean this is a serious issue. It is going to affect a lot of people. Hopefully, I will have a positive impact on changing minds,” she said.

Professor Larry Jacobs thinks celebrity fueled higher turnout is likely to boost the Vote Yes side.

“I think the impact of the football players, and now Seimone Augustus coming out on the gay marriage amendment is likely to raise the attention and the turnout of a lot of voters,” Jacobs said. “But with Augustus stepping in and Kluwe from the Vikings, it’s creating a stir that may actually motivate some conservative Republicans, who are saying, ‘I disagree with that, and I am going to turn out and vote now.'”

Professor Jacobs say a celebrity endorsement has only rarely been credited with a candidates or a cause’s ultimate win. One exception — when Oprah Winfrey endorsed then Sen. Barack Obama before the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

“There is some evidence that when Oprah came out and supported Barack Obama in Iowa, it had a big impact,” he said. “Some estimates say that perhaps 100,000, or more, who were not going to ordinarily vote for Obama, turned out for him.”

And that 2008 Oprah endorsement is not only credited with helping Obama win the Iowa caucuses but with creating the momentum to beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination.

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