Politics

Who Is Winning the Democratic Celebrity Primary?

George R.R. Martin for Biden. Cardi B for Bernie. Judge Judy for Bloomberg. Only one can win.

Stickers of Democratic candidates' faces surrounded by the faces of the celebrities who endorse them
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Rick Loomis/Getty Images, Leon Bennett/Getty Images, Amy Sussman/Getty Images, Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Hallmark Channel, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Steven Ferdman/Getty Images, Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images, and David Livingston/Getty Images.

What do a fantasy writer who favors newsboy caps and can’t finish his book series, an Olympic silver medalist figure skater, and the star of such films as Save the Last Dance and Barbershop have in common? George R.R. Martin, Michelle Kwan, and Sean Patrick Thomas are all supporting Joe Biden in his campaign to become the Democratic presidential nominee. And they’re hardly the only set of strange bedfellows among the celebrities who have lately declared political allegiances. For example, I can only imagine what Elon Musk and Noah Centineo, both [Andrew] Yang Gangers, would have to talk about once they’ve exhausted discussion of a universal basic income.

We’ve reached that point in campaign season where the celebrity endorsements are coming in fast and furious. Just last week, Mandy Moore hitched her wagon to former Mayor Pete, and Dave Chappelle publicly announced himself as a member of Yang Gang. The New York Times took it upon itself to ask whether these endorsements actually matter to voters, but its reporting failed to address a clearly more important question: Which of the remaining Dems has scored the best celeb endorsements? And by “best,” I mean the ones I personally consider coolest. Here’s a handy ranking, from worst to first, skipping over those remaining candidates (Gabbard, Delaney, Steyer, Bennet, Patrick) who seemingly have, uh, no celebrity endorsements.

N.b.: This nonexhaustive list gives more weight to people who made statements or social media posts to support someone as opposed to just donating to their campaigns (though it mentions some of those), because celebrities play fast and loose with their money and sometimes give to multiple candidates. Let’s begin!

7. Amy Klobuchar

Celebrity endorsers: Jane Lynch

Commentary: Sorry, Ames. Jane Lynch is not nothing—we’re not calling you the worst, Jane—but it’s looking a little lonely in Klobuchar’s theoretical green room. (Seeing as how Jane Lynch recently gained attention for her criticism of Elizabeth Warren and praise of Pete Buttigieg, Klobuchar doesn’t even have Lynch to herself.) Another tough break: Teri Hatcher had donated to Klobuchar earlier in the campaign but recently threw her support to Yang. Klobuchar also landed donations from Hollywood bigwigs like James L. Brooks and Jeffrey Katzenberg, but as far as celebrity rally attendees or social media posts, Klobuchar is coming up short. Thank goodness for the Gray Lady, huh?

6. Joe Biden

Celebrity endorsers: George R.R. Martin, Rob Reiner, Michelle Kwan, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Vivica A. Fox, … Michael Avenatti

Commentary: That any list including Tom Hanks could be considered one of the worst collections of celebrity endorsements is hard to believe, and yet, here we are! (Also, Hanks donated to Biden but technically speaking has been pretty mum about endorsing any one candidate.) Names like Fox, Thomas, and Kwan may be recognizable, but they’re not exactly the hottest stars of the moment. Overall, a pretty underwhelming, and older-skewing, slate for a Democratic front-runner!

5. Michael Bloomberg

Celebrity endorsers: Judy Sheindlin (aka Judge Judy)

Commentary: Bloomberg may only have one celebrity endorsement, but you’ve got to admit it’s a good one. Her honor is the one person who’s allowed to pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

4. Andrew Yang

Celebrity endorsers: Elon Musk, Dave Chappelle, Norm Macdonald, Nicolas Cage, Ken Jeong, Donald Glover, Noah Centineo, Rivers Cuomo, Teri Hatcher, Steven Yeun, Jack Dorsey

Commentary: Has there ever been such a ridiculous assortment of people? Yang rallies must be a trip. There’s definitely some cool factor here: Donald Glover, Noah Centineo, youth icons both; Steven Yeun, reluctant heartthrob. Elon Musk and Norm Macdonald cancel some of that coolness out, however. And collectively, there’s something strange about this group. I want to say that maybe they all sat at the “freaks and weirdos” table in the high school cafeteria and therefore have that in common, but there’s no way Teri Hatcher sat at that table. Teri Hatcher might not even know about that table. So disregarding Teri Hatcher, political sphinx, what do the rest of these guys (they’re all guys) have in common? They’re all a little offbeat. They consider themselves contrarian thinkers. They don’t believe in the weirder conspiracy theories, but they’ve definitely read Reddit threads about them. Huh, it kind of sounds like I’m profiling a serial killer. It’s not that I think Yang supporters are serial killers; I enjoy a lot of them, but I also absolutely would not trust them to, like, pet-sit for me (again, except Teri Hatcher).

3. Pete Buttigieg

Celebrity endorsers: Mandy Moore, Kevin Costner, Emmy Rossum, Gwyneth Paltrow, Seth MacFarlane, George Takei, Alan Cumming, Sharon Stone

Commentary: Now here is a collection of people I would definitely trust to pet-sit for me. (Well, except Seth MacFarlane. There’s always an exception.) Are any of them actually cool, though? I love Mandy Moore and Kevin Costner is my dad and I want to braid Emmy Rossum’s hair, but they’re all sort of try-hard types in the end, aren’t they? I half-expect Anne Hathaway to show up next. (Whom I love, for the record! Just stating facts!) I had thought Alan Cumming and Sharon Stone were kind of cool, but now, I don’t know. I picture Buttigieg vibing to “The Star-Spangled Banner” (cf. this tweet by my friend Ben) and I’m just like, “Alan, Sharon, this guy?” They’re at least hipper than Biden’s squad, though, I’ll give them that.

2. Elizabeth Warren

Celebrity endorsers: John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Megan Rapinoe, Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Van Ness, Melissa Etheridge, Martin Sheen, Rosie O’Donnell

Commentary: John and Chrissy are good gets, as is Rapinoe, especially in her post–World Cup glow. But even still, one longs for a big pop idol, or an A-list actress who is less problematic. A robust group of presidential candidates was supposed to be a good thing, but it’s not only dividing the electorate at large; it’s dividing the celebrities! Call me sentimental, but I can’t wait until Teigen, Moore, and Cardi B can all unite on the same side.

1. Bernie Sanders

Celebrity endorsers: Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Emily Ratajkowski, Susan Sarandon, Chloë Sevigny, Jack Nicholson, Danny Glover, Sarah Silverman, Danny DeVito, Lizzo, John Cusack, Mark Ruffalo, Justin Long, Michael Moore, Shailene Woodley

Commentary: I hate to admit this, because there are certain models on this list who have social media presences that give me high blood pressure, but this is objectively the coolest group of endorsers, while also encompassing stalwart hippies like Sarandon and Woodley to lend credence to Sanders’ leftist credentials (if you are the kind of person who looks to whom Susan Sarandon is supporting and not actual policies when judging such things). Not everyone on this list is equally cool—something tells me John Cusack and Justin Long have both flirted with Yang Gang—but the one-two punch of Cardi B and Ariana Grande is hard to beat. Cooler still might be the fact that Bernie doesn’t give a flying hoot about celebrities and clearly has someone on his staff who had to teach him who Cardi B and Grande are. That’s when you know you’re really cool.