Jon Ossoff Loses To Karen Handel: Repeat Of Hillary Clinton’s Failed Celebrity Strategy Against Trump?

Jon Ossoff may have done well to listen to this age-old advice: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” After losing to Karen Handel in Georgia’s special congressional election using the same losing strategies as Hillary Clinton in 2016, it could be time for Democrats to rethink their approach.

Among the reasons for Hillary Clinton’s defeat may have been her reliance on endorsements from celebrities such as Beyonce, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga. Although this strategy failed miserably for Clinton, Jon Ossoff opted for this route as well, using endorsements from Alyssa Milano, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sarah Silverman to sell his image to potential voters, according to the Inquisitr.

Despite the massive celebrity campaigning and fundraising, Ossoff still lost the Georgia special election to Republican Karen Handel, whose biggest high-profile supporter was President Donald Trump.

Hollywood Vs. Georgia

President Trump aptly summed up the Georgia special congressional election when he tweeted, “It is now Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th.” According to Breitbart, a whole host of celebrities came out not only to endorse Jon Ossoff but also to support him with donations and personal campaigning. Television star and Ossoff supporter Alyssa Milano even offered to drive Georgians to early vote polling places in March. A-list actor Samuel L. Jackson made a 45-second radio advertisement for Ossoff, which aired in April. In the ad, Jackson connected the Georgia election to the 2016 presidential election, promising voters that by electing Ossoff, they would be fighting Trump’s alleged “racial and religious discrimination and sexism.” Actor John Leguizamo dramatically claimed that the future of democracy depended on the outcome of this congressional election.

According to Breitbart, many celebrities shelled out cash for Ossoff, with actor Sam Waterston and actresses Jane Fonda and Kyra Sedgwick contributing to his campaign, which raised an unusually large amount of cash for a Congressional House race. It is telling, however, that 95 percent of Ossoff’s donations came from out of state sources. Alyssa Milano aptly described Democrats’ perception of this election when she stated the following.

“It is the seat heard round the world. Everyone is watching. All the recent special elections have taken on a certain symbolism of the resistance”

The Daily Caller reports that when Ossoff was asked directly in an MSNBC interview why he chose to have celebrities campaign for him when that strategy failed for Hillary Clinton, he evaded the question, stating that it doesn’t matter to voters whether celebrities are supporting him or not, an answer that doesn’t explain why he agreed to have them on his campaign.

Hillary Clinton’s Celebrity Fanfare Failure

According to an analysis by Vanity Fair, Hillary Clinton’s celebrity endorsements did little to help her resonate with voters, and may have helped to alienate her from certain segments of the populace, such as white working-class Americans who may be leery of messages from “elitist” Hollywood stars. However, the focus of those celebrity endorsements was likely the demographic of 18 to 24-year-olds, who may have less experience looking for a job and more interest in the social justice focus of Clinton’s platform. But according to the U.S. Census reports, the 2016 election showed low engagement among this age group.

According to Vanity Fair, the mistake in this strategy could have been a misapplication of the “Oprah effect.” In 2007, talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey formally endorsed Barack Obama for president. According to one study, this endorsement convinced 1 million voters to support Barack Obama in the democratic primary. Seeing these results, Hillary may have thought they would bear fruit for her when Oprah endorsed her candidacy in 2016. However, this didn’t seem to do much to convince Republicans to vote for Clinton or even for Democrats to show increased engagement.

Katy Perry with Hillary Clinton
[Image by Julio Cortez/AP Images]

Will Democrats Learn In Time For 2018?

No one knows whether the Democrats will change their approach following this embarrassing defeat in Georgia. Despite President Donald Trump’s alleged low poll numbers, his endorsement of Karen Handel seemed to hold more weight than all of the Hollywood supporters of Jon Ossoff combined. Or, perhaps, the platform of a politician matters more than the identity or existence of high-profile endorsements.

[Featured Image by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images]