Celebrities pounded the pavement for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms but failed to pull Democratic candidates over the line in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee.
Oprah Winfrey hit the campaign trail for the first time in 2018, stumping for Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, knocking on doors, and giving speeches for Abrams in the closing days of the cycle. She declared Abrams the harbinger of a new generation of political candidates, and threw her support behind the Georgia Democrat, alongside former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
The race should have been tailor-made for Winfrey, who has been seeking an in road to public politics since retiring from her daytime television show several years ago, but even Oprah’s star power couldn’t close the deal. Tuesday night, Abrams lost by at least 2%, and despite calls for a recount, is unlikely to survive to a runoff election.
That’s a tough blow to Oprah’s political future, which might have included a 2020 Presidential run, but it was only one celebrity loss in a night of high-profile Democratic disasters.
Pop star Taylor Swift endorsed Tennessee Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, breaking her self-imposed, career long political silence to encourage “Swifties” to cast their ballot against Republican Marsha Blackburn. Swift played it off as a declaration of “feminism,” but failed to consider that Bredesen defied the women’s movement when he suggested he’d vote in favor of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
In the end, Swift not only couldn’t save Bredesen, she may have tanked him; Bredesen lost by more than ten points to Blackburn, giving the Republicans a pickup in the Senate.
In Florida, pop star Rihanna — and rap stars Common and Diddy — failed to give Democrat Andrew Gillum the boost he needed to become the state’s next governor, even though their celebrity appearances attracted thousands of attendees. In the end, Gillum lost to Republican Ron DeSantis by only a few points, but, unlike Abrams in Georgia, he conceded the race.
The strangest celebrity endorsement may have been Beyonce’s eleventh hour Instagram post promoting Texas Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke. The last minute shot of Beyonce flashing peace symbols while sporting a Beto hat made it seem like she’d been hedging on whether to become involved at all — even though she and her partner Jay-Z are vocal Democrats and give copiously to Democratic campaigns.
Beto, of course, lost to Republican Ted Cruz, and some Beyonce fans were so disappointed that they blamed the pop star.
Beyonce should have posted the Beto hat a week ago.. pic.twitter.com/uUHtT9RV8f
— Ry (@JustRyCole) November 7, 2018
Beyonce is perfect but she could have come through w the Beto endorsement last week…?
— Pat Miguel Tomaino(@pat_tomaino) November 7, 2018
But what if Beyoncé posted that Beto insta like 24 hours earlier? Honest question.
— Mike Kelton (@mikekelton) November 7, 2018
The honest answer is … not much, unless Beyonce possesses magical powers that can overcome a six-point deficit. Which, perhaps she does. But we may never know if they could have helped Beto.