Election 2007 celebrity politics

One upside of the 2007 election was the failure of celebrity politics. Big names and big dollars were after Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth, yet there was a swing to him of 1.19%, against a NSW swing away from the government of 5.65%.

Across the harbour in Bennelong, Labor’s celebrity candidate Maxine McKew, though clearly with qualifications for the job beyond a long TV career, won with a swing of 5.38%, slightly below the NSW average. Perhaps a less-well-known Labor candidate wouldn’t have been able to get Labor over the line in Bennelong against a Prime Minister, but the celebrity factor isn’t obvious in the numbers.

Nor was a celebrity factor clearly showing for former TV weatherman Mike Bailey, running against Joe Hockey in North Sydney. His swing of 4.8% was also below the NSW state average.

In the South Australian seat of Boothby, Nicole Cornes probably did get a celebrity effect – far more publicity for her blunders than she might have received had she been more obscure. She did get a swing to Labor of 2.33%, but that was only just over a third of the overall South Australian swing.

Many voters probably do make their election decision for superficial reasons, but in 2007 their interest in celebrities did not seem to be among them.

7 thoughts on “Election 2007 celebrity politics

  1. I’m a constituent of Nth Sydney, who went to most of the street fair events, and celebrity or not, Mike Bailey was not a good campaigner. He was awkward, and hid behind his staff rather than getting out there and talking to people. WHereas Joe Hockey, whatever his ministerial faults, does a superb job of being the hail-fellow-well-met person who can talk to anyone and will at the drop of a hat.

    I think it depends on the celebrity. Some are good at the personal thing (clearly Maxine McKew was) and some are hoping for the name recognition.

    John Howard’s margin had been eroded last time by a good candidate, I think, so I think Maxine McKew swing was bigger than it looked.

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  2. The question of celebrity politics is deeper than just celebrity candidates, however. Look at the number of actors and actresses who openly support one or the other side of politics in the US. Why does the fact that someone is a good actor or actress, or beatiful, or a good musician or a talk show host make their opinion any more credible than someone elses?

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  3. Damien Eldridge wrote:

    Why does the fact that someone is a good actor or actress, or beatiful, or a good musician or a talk show host make their opinion any more credible than someone elses?

    Why would it be any less credible? Should we be asking taxi drivers or the guy down at the coffee shop to be quiet about their political beliefs in what is a largely public role?
    There are plenty of examples of celebrities who seem to have a negative effect when they talk politics (the dixie chicks for example). My suggestion is to quit reading New Idea if you don’t value the opinion of celebrities.

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  4. I agree with David. Looking at and listening to Sharon Stone or Lindsay Lohan doesn’t make them less convincing that looking at and listening Jenny Macklin. Good point David. They’re people too, not objects of desire.

    I got the distinct impression that Maxine ran a really stupid campaign. She kept bouncing around dancing all the time and when asked about serious policy issues continually referred to the “future”, “working families”and an “education revolution” without ever discussing real policy issues. I couldn’t help figuring out if she was really that stupid or it was just that she thought the people were. Does anyone know?

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