“Campaigns Pay Influencers to Carry Their Messages, Skirting Political Ad Rules”


In between posts showing himself running ladder drills and lifting weights, Ky’Wuan Dukes, a 20-year-old wide receiver at Johnson C. Smith University, tells his 21,000 Instagram followers to vote. He has also discussed gun control and abortion rights, as part of a campaign he is paid to participate in by NextGen America, a Democratic political action committee and advocacy group.

Luke Stone, a contestant on the reality shows “Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” has shared with his 33,000 followers an advertisement promoting reproductive rights for women, paid for by another Democratic PAC, American Bridge.

And in July, Grace Hunter, who has 4 million followers on TikTok, posted a video capturing the responses she got on a dating app when she asked the people she matched with their opinions about abortion. She then encouraged her followers to vote, as part of a sponsored campaign called “Hot Girls Vote.”

These social media influencers and microinfluencers — noncelebrity users who have attracted a moderately large following — are paid hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars per post to circulate political messages, and they are part of a growing group of people who are being paid by campaign operatives to create content aimed at influencing the midterm elections.

Political firms, mostly those aligned with Democrats and progressive causes, are increasingly turning to them in hopes of finding ways to reach Generation Z and non-English-speaking voters, according to researchers, and they represent a novel — and unregulated — way of promoting political messages.

Strategists say using influencers can enhance how campaigns engage with crucial voters who could help sway competitive races. They provide a cost-effective way to communicate to large and localized audiences that draws higher engagement and circumvents bans on political advertising on platforms like Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

Share this: