There was plenty of excitement to see Jay-Z perform Friday at Cleveland State University. The concert was organized by the Hillary Clinton campaign in an effort to secure supporters in Ohio, which, according to recent polls is a totaltoss-upp between Clinton and Donald Trump.
Hours before the doors even opened at the Wolstein Center, Jay-Z fans were lined up and eager to see the hip-hop star perform. But they were also eager to vote for the woman behind his performance.
“I pray that she wins and this is definitely going to help,” said Clinton supporter, Desmond Wright.
But, how? The voter registration deadline has already passed and a free concert is a free concert, there’s no guarantee that the thousands in tonight’s crowd will translate to thousands of votes for Clinton.
“We also had people signing up for early vote, we then had people then signing up to register to vote, as well as going out to volunteer,” said Denise Horn, the Director of African American Media for the Clinton Campaign.
Getting a ticket was free, but it came at a cost. Campaign organizers had concert goers sign up to volunteer, or agree to vote early.
But ultimately anyone could go, even Trump supporters.
“I think it’s still a good opportunity to reach some Donald Trump supporters. I know that his support among African American voters has been extremely low, so I’m not so sure necessarily that we’ll get a lot of Donald Trump supporters here,” said Horn.
“Campaigns have been doing this for the last couple of decades,” said Michael Bowen.
Bowen, a political expert and John Carroll history professor, explained how big concerts with big performers can be political sparks that ignite support among crucial demographics.
“What she is trying to do here is tap into that Obama coalition of young voters and young African American voters and motivate them to the polls,” he said.
The campaign would not say how many tickets were distributed, but the capacity of the Wolstein Center is around 10,000 people.