A common request for male political voice talent when they’re voicing political campaigns goes something like this: “Hey, can you make this sound like Matthew McConaughey, or James Earl Jones? Or how about Sam Elliott?”
What the producer is really looking for isn’t a dead-on imitation of any of those actors. He or she are hearing in their heads how the finished ad should sound, and they’re only mentioning Sam Elliott or Matthew McConaughey because they’ve made a connection between the familiar voices of those actors and and that voice in their heads.
If they really wanted their completed political campaign spot to sound like Sam Elliott, for example, they’d probably just go hire Sam Elliott…assuming they had the appropriate sized budget.
Elliott has in the past voiced commercials for a number of products, including meat products and pickup trucks. (In fact, he may be the ONLY actor who has voiced commercials for all three top American pickup truck brands: RAM, Ford, and Chevy Silverado.)
But when it comes to political ads, Sam Elliott has been heard in only one campaign commercial that made a big splash, and that was a 2020 World Series ad for then presidential candidate Joe Biden.
So if a political campaign producer asks for a voice talent to “sound like Sam Elliott,” they’re really saying, “Use a lower tone, gravelly, weathered voice, slow it down, and maybe lay a very little bit of drawl on it like you might imagine a cowboy would use.” That’s a lot of words for direction, so it’s easier for them to just say, “Hey, can you sound like Sam Elliott (or whoever it is that’s “playing” inside their head).