You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Where's Oprah?

You can't help thinking she'd be helpful to Obama right now. Not only is Oprah exceedingly popular among working-class white women--a killer demographic for Obama--she's also the second-most famous person in the world who can claim Jeremiah Wright as her "ex-pastor." (Or is Oprah more famous than Obama? Not sure.) How much of a coup would it be for Obama if she outed herself as a one-time Trinity congregant who's completely mystified by Wright's publicity tour? An Obama appearance on her show would be even better...

But a quick database search reveals that she's been almost completely AWOL from the campaign since at least the week before March 4. I'm not entirely sure why that is, though it could have something to do with her own bottom--er, bottom line. I doubt the Wright association would be great for business. Heck, according to this Politico story from early April, even the Obama association was costly:

But by the time Fox News/Opinion Dynamics asked Americans about their attitudes toward Oprah in a survey conducted about 10 days later, Dec. 18-19, Oprah’s favorability ratings had dropped even further--to 55 percent--the lowest level of favorability ever registered for Oprah in opinion surveys. Oprah’s negatives also spiked, with one in three respondents (33 percent) reporting unfavorable impressions of her.

The results of a March 26, 2008, AOL Television popularity poll of television hosts reveal Americans may now embrace Ellen DeGeneres over Oprah by a wide margin. Forty-six percent of the 1.35 million people who participated in the poll said the daytime talk show host that “made their day” was Ellen, compared with only 19 percent who chose Oprah. Nearly half (47 percent) said they would rather dine with Ellen, compared with 14 percent who preferred Oprah.

So I don't expect to see Oprah boosting Obama any time soon. (Though, just in case, I've e-mailed the campaign to see if there are any plans for this. I'll update if necessary.)

Update: My colleague Chris Orr says Oprah is more famous than Obama, and I'm at a loss to disagree with him. I'd chalk up Chris's superior instincts on this question to his extensive entertainment-industry knowledge. But that excuse doesn't really wash. Oprah's advantage is pretty much self-evident when you think about it.  

--Noam Scheiber