Gwen Stefani’s Politics Aren’t Hard to Figure Out, So Why the Mystery?

Gwen Stefani wearing a high ponytail
Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Is Gwen Stefani a Republican? Well, it’s sort of a funny question to ask someone who was one of the top fundraising bundlers for Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. Yet speculation about Stefani’s political leanings has intensified over the past few years, especially ever since she started dating country musician Blake Shelton. A chance encounter with the then-Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, only muddied the waters. According to reports, Stefani and Shelton were dining at a restaurant in Shelton’s native Oklahoma when Ryan happened to walk in (his wife is also a native Oklahoman). Shelton posed for a picture with Ryan, though Stefani, notably, did not. Later, Shelton took to Twitter to clarify that it was a completely coincidental run-in, that he had never met Ryan before, and that he wasn’t political.

Still, some have taken this as proof that Stefani is now a card-carrying member of the GOP. It’s an allegation that has carried so much weight that she was recently asked about it in a cover story for Paper magazine.

"I can see how people would be curious, but I think it's pretty obvious who I am," she says. "I've been around forever."

Stefani then points out that she got into music because she was inspired by Ska, a genre whose early days were intertwined with leftwing politics, that the first song she ever wrote called “Different People” was “about everyone being different and being the same and loving each other,” and that that song made it to one of Obama’s playlists.

This, of course, is not a clear-cut “yes” or “no” answer to the question, but it does seem to be Stefani’s way of saying that her politics have not radically shifted in recent years. In which, case, it’s actually pretty easy to identify her general political leanings, at least in terms of America’s Republican vs Democrat divide.

She Was a Top Obama Fundraiser in 2012

According to FEC, Stefani was single handily one of the top bundlers for the Obama campaign back in 2012. She raised at least $500,000 for the effort, though the exact amount is unclear since the FEC only reports those numbers in tiers. Still, that put Stefani in the top tier of all bundlers and put her in the company of more traditional fundraising movers and shakers like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Ted Sarandos. The only other traditional celebs to reach that level were Eva Longoria, and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s combined efforts. Though, fashion powerhouses Anna Wintour and Tom Ford were also in the top tier.

The bulk of Stefani’s bundling likely came from a fundraiser she held at her home with Michelle Obama.

Stefani also personally donated the maximum $5,000 to Obama’s campaign and another $1,250 to the DNC, according to Open Secrets. She has made no personal donations to Republicans.

She Maintained Close Relations with the Obamas

When the Obamas held their final state dinner in 2016 to welcome the prime minister of Italy, Stefani was both an invited guest and the evening’s musical entertainment (yes, she brought Shelton along, too). Stefani and her children stopped by the Oval Office to meet with the Obamas before the formal shindig as well. She also still follows Michelle Obama on Instagram, for what that’s worth.

No Doubt Contributed a Song to a 2004 Anti-Bush Compilation

Stefani’s band No Doubt contributed the song “Comforting Lie” to the 2004 compilation “Rock Against Bush Vol. 2.” Initiated by NOFX’s Fat Mike, the Rock Against Bush effort was to mobilize punk and alt-rock fans against the Iraq War and George W. Bush’s reelection.

2016 Performances of “Just a Girl” Seem, Well, Pointed

In July 2016, just as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were wrapping up their parties’ nominations and the general election began in earnest, Stefani went on a summer solo tour. She saved “Just a Girl” for the penultimate song of the setlist, and on opening night in Massachusetts introduced the song in that faux-bratty voice she adapts with, “This next song just feels appropriate. I don’t know why. It just feels appropriate.” She then tears through lyrics like “I'm just a girl, lucky me. Twiddle-dum, there's no comparison” with a certain animosity. Is this speculation...looking for tea leaves? Sure, but it was the summer of 2016, and anything that seemed like a pointed commentary on the election probably was.

She Played a Jerry Brown for President Fundraiser in 1992, Apparently...

A few sources on the internet seem to confirm that a pre-fame No Doubt played a Jerry Brown for President fundraiser at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on May 23, 1992. Brown was the then-Governor of California and generally considered one of the most liberal mainstream Democratic politicians at the time (or, at least, certainly more liberal than Bill Clinton). When the fundraiser happened on May 23, many had assumed Clinton was pretty much gliding to the nomination, but Brown stayed in the race as both a matter of principle and with a small chance to overcome Clinton. The sources are a SetList.fm, and an article on a No Doubt fan site in which early fans recall memories of seeing the band’s early gigs. Still, a young SoCal Ska band playing a Jerry Brown fundraiser in 1992 would not necessarily register as much of a shock.

There’s Also This Tweet

Was Stefani ready to testify against Donald Trump? We’re not entirely sure. Was she up late at night reading about Trump scandals on the Twitter feeds of MSNBC personalities? Apparently that night she was.

So Why Doesn’t She Just Say All That?

Look, we know certain fans will not be satisfied until Stefani grabs them by their hands, looks deep in their eyes, and declares, “Look, babe, I wrote the fiercest ‘90s pop feminist anthem this side of the Spice Girls, have every Operation Ivy and The Specials album on vinyl, and have Michelle Obama on speed dial. Why the fuck would you think I’m a Republican?” Though, it doesn’t seem she’s ever going to be that direct about it (whether she’s in a relationship with Shelton or not).

Stefani also came to fame in the ‘90s, when, if you can believe it, celebrities were far less publicly involved in politics. We didn’t have Twitter back then! Pop stars weren’t announcing their primary endorsements like they were The New York Times or something. It was a different time. A lot of mainstream celebrity activism was through lowkey fundraising appearances and the like—the kind Stefani has a history of engaging in.

We know we live in a time when many people think silence is equivalent to approval, but there’s little evidence that routine celebrity political endorsements actually matter much in the grand scheme of things (just look at the 2016 election...). Stefani probably won’t start tweeting political hashtags anytime soon, but she has used her fame and power to support Democrats in other ways in the past.