With the 2020 Democratic and Republican primaries in swing, political news has dominated the various media networks.
Taking a step away from the constant debates and policy proposals, it’s time we examine the candidates’ more pressing records: musician endorsements.
We’ll narrow in on Democratic front-runners Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. President Donald Trump, the Republican incumbent, will also be thrown into the mix. By analyzing which musicians have endorsed the selected candidates, we have boiled it down to a short list. Let’s take a look at the definitive musical power-rankings below.
“A” Tier — Bernie Sanders:
If you want an eclectic music taste, look no further than the Bernie Sanders camp. Similar to the diverse coalition that backs the Vermont senator, his endorsements consist of highly assorted genres and styles of music.
Representing the indie scene, Vampire Weekend helms the ship with enthusiastic support for Sanders, as seen with their appearance at Bernie’s rally in Cedar Rapids for the Iowa caucus. Other alternative artists, such as the Strokes, Bon Iver, Soccer Mommy, and Weyes Blood, have also endorsed Sanders.
In terms of classic artists, Jack White of the White Stripes, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and Neil Young have publicly announced their backing for Bernie’s bid for president. Young’s support was solidified as he officially became an American citizen in late January 2020, thus dropping his Canadian citizenship status.
In the world of rap, Killer Mike of Run the Jewels has been a proud supporter of Sanders since the 2016 election. Cardi B and Lil Yachty endorsed Sanders for the 2020 election, as well. Additionally, Sanders also boasts the support of some of the most popular pop stars today: Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Lizzo.
Bernie truly racks up the most substantial — and diverse — music endorsements.
“B” Tier — Donald Trump:
Say what you will about the controversial figure that is the essence of President Trump, but there’s no denying the big names that back his reelection efforts. Similar to Sanders, Trump’s musician support also represents his base — predominantly in the South and rural areas of the country.
Ted Nugent and Kid Rock create the foundation of Trump’s southern rock support. The music from the two musicians listed above truly represent the core base of Trump’s support, as this style of rock music dominates the stadiums at the omnipresent and frequent Trump rallies. Gene Simmons of KISS has also backed the President.
President Trump also possesses the rock n’ roll endorsement of Meat Loaf; his album Bat Out of Hell is the third most sold album of all time.
Addressing the elephant in the room, Trump claims the endorsement of an equally contentious icon in the music industry — Kanye West. Since backing Trump in 2016, West has gloated his “Make America Great Again” hat, referenced the Republican president in works like Ye, and tweeted out details about their friendship. Although the pairing may seem out of place, Donald Trump and Kanye West’s relationship crystalizes the placement of Trump at the “B” tier.
“C” Tier — Elizabeth Warren:
Elizabeth Warren’s list of endorsements is where the rankings begin to dwindle in significance. However, this doesn’t mean those individuals who support her lack substance.
John Legend, known for his smash-hit “All of Me,” has been a consistent campaigner for the Massachusetts senator during her 2020 presidential bid. Jack Black of Tenacious D and the music film School of Rock also backs Warren. Both musicians bring a sense of humility to Warren’s inspiring rallies.
Although not as extensive of a list as Sanders or Trump, Elizabeth Warren retains relatively prominent endorsements.
“D” Tier — Pete Buttigieg:
Despite having immense media support from some of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities, Mayor Buttigieg lacks the support from leading musicians.
The only renowned artist that backs Buttigieg is David Crosby of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Crosby’s style of music and lyrical content connects well with Buttigieg’s dominant midwestern appeal.
Regardless of the legendary status attached to Crosby, this single substantial endorsement simply does not push Buttigieg past the other candidates in terms of musical strength.
“F” Tier — Joe Biden:
Here’s where the list really crumbles. Biden has absolutely no endorsements from any leading music artists. Zero. The only mention of any musical support came from a tweet from the pop-star Cher. She currently has done no touring for the Biden campaign. Biden’s lack of support from any current artist creates the view that he is out of touch with the times, thus his low placement on this ranking.
Alex Cambra is a Cal Poly History freshman and a KCPR staff member. He wrote the article. Hailey Honegger is a Cal Poly Graphic Communications sophomore and KCPR staff member. She created the graphic.