American Public Does Not See Celebrity Candidates as the Answer

An Ipsos/Daily Beast poll

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, June 15, 2018 — With an entrepreneur / reality show star occupying the White House, the rumor mills are putting forward many other celebrity would-be politicians as the response to President Trump. Ipsos, with the Daily Beast, examined Americans’ opinions of many leading entertainment, business, and political figures and asked Americans what they think of celebrity candidates. The results do not look good for stars seeking a change of spotlights.

Large majorities of Americans believe that high-level elected officials should have prior government (66%) or management (73%) experience before assuming office. Republicans (75%) and Democrats (74%) alike value prior management experience, but Republicans (49%) are much less likely than Democrats (78%) to value prior government experience. All Americans (18%), including both Democrats (21%) and Republicans (19%), are unlikely to agree that celebrity candidates are good for democracy. 

When presented with a short list of individuals, all of whom are at least somewhat prominent but none of whom have said they are seeking the presidency, most Americans say they are unlikely to consider supporting each of the celebrities or business persons. Only one in three (34%) Americans say they would be likely to vote for Oprah Winfrey, who earned some buzz after a stemwinder speech at the Golden Globes in January. Former FBI Director James Comey could get the support of 15% of Americans, businessman Howard Schultz 9%, and entertainer Kanye West also 9%. West also earns the strongest negative reaction, with 84% of Americans saying they would be unlikely to vote for him. 

Looking at the reputations of specific public figures, our Ipsos/Daily Beast survey finds that Bill Gates and Tom Hanks are universally beloved with 84% of Americans giving either man a favorable rating. Positivity towards the two is relatively uniform across partisans, although Republicans are a little cooler towards Hanks. The next tier in popularity include Oprah Winfrey (66% favorable), Barack Obama (64%), George W. Bush (63%), and Warren Buffett (62%). These four have positive public personas with at least twice as many Americans viewing them favorably as view them unfavorably. 

Political figures see extremely asymmetric support. For example, Barack Obama is viewed favorable by virtually all Democrats (96%) and most independents (60%), but very few Republicans (28%). Donald Trump has a relatively low favorability rating overall (40%) but he is highly regarded by Republicans (83%). Trump and George W. Bush are essentially tied among Republicans (83% vs 86%) with W.’s stronger ratings with Democrats and Independents pushing him ahead of the current president. 


About the Study
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the Daily Beast from June 14-15, 2018. For the survey, a sample of roughly 1,000 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 339 Democrats, 335 Republicans, and 204 Independents. 

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,000 , DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5). 

The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 6.1 percentage points for Democrats, plus or minus 6.1 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 7.8 percentage points for Independents. 

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can  download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or 
contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025

Mallory Newall
Director, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014  

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Director, US, Public Affairs