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A surprise: Oprah pays a real cost for supporting Barack Obama

(UPDATE: This Ticket item has aroused so much interest, traffic and hundreds of comments that a new one has been published this morning. After you've read this item and are ready to go to the new one, just click here to read the reactions of hundreds of Oprah fans and former fans. Thanks for reading.)

Most of the attention on the O2 effect -- Obama and Oprah -- has been focused on how much the daytime TV cult leader helped her home state senator by endorsing him and appearing at all those rallies in Iowa and South Carolina with Barack and Michelle.Daytime TV diva Oprah Winfrey's support of Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle turns out to have cost her perhaps more than she helped him

The 54-year-old Chicago TV hostess certainly helped raise a hefty chunk of change by loaning out her estate for that Obama fundraiser last summer.

Oprah Winfrey has long enjoyed an immense popularity tied to her long-running daytime TV show, which started in 1986, and helped give her favorable ratings around 78% by 1996. So well known is she that one name will suffice, as in our headline.

In one 1999 survey of the most admired and respected 20th-century women, Oprah (26%) came in only second to Mother Teresa (33%), who didn't have her own TV show. And in 2003 a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found that 60% thought Oprah was a more powerful woman than someone named Hillary Clinton, a former first lady and senator, who drew only 28%.

Fourteen months ago, a Gallup/USA Today poll found 74% of Americans had a favorable view of the TV personality.

Then on May 1 last year, Oprah announced during....

the Larry King show that she was, for the first time, going to throw her considerable weight behind a political candidate -- Obama.  King's suspenders nearly snapped.

“I think," she told old Lar, "that my value to him, my support of him, is probably worth more than any check.” Although, to be honest, her estimated $2.5 billion in wealth could buy an awful lot of TV ads in Indiana. It might even be able to purchase the Hoosier State. 

But little attention has been paid to the effect of Obama on Oprah. Now along comes Costas Panagopoulos, an assistant professor of political science at New York's Fordham University, to ask and answer just that question.

Writing at, he suggests the aging empress of TV has paid a price for getting into the dirty business of politics with and for her man Barack. By August last year, a CBS poll found her favorabMother Teresa who beat out TV talk-show hostess and billionaire Oprah Winfrey as most admired woman of the 20th centuryle rating had plunged from 74% to 61%, still twice as good as the president but nearly a 20% drop.

Around Thanksgiving she announced that not only was she supporting Obama, but she would campaign with him and we'd see if her political recommendation carried as much weight as her book recommendations. Oprah's political travels produced a media feeding frenzy and a publicity bonanza with women routinely fainting in the front row. The campaign said her rallies produced 10,000 new volunteers.

Winfrey campaigned for Obama in Iowa, which he won, in South Carolina, where he won, and in New Hampshire, where he lost. We haven't heard much about Winfrey since the voting started. Did she realize something we're just getting?  We heard only that she left the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ several years ago, reportedly over some of his more militant sermons that Obama says he never heard.

But 10 days after the campaign media explosion her favorable rating had dropped further to 55% and her unfavorable ratings for the first time climbed to 1 in 3.

A December ABC/Washington Post poll of Democrats found 8% were persuaded by her Obama endorsement, 82% said it wouldn't matter either way and 10% said her recommendation had turned them off Obama.

Now, Panagopoulos has discovered an AOL TV popularity survey of 1.35 million Americans that found 46% said the daytime TV host who "made their day" was Ellen DeGeneres while only 19% chose Winfrey. Forty-seven percent said they'd like to have dinner with Ellen, while only 14% chose Oprah.

Apparently, neither Ellen nor Oprah were asked who they'd like to dine with.

Panagopoulos draws the conclusion that in these days of pervasive media, in reality, celebrity endorsements run the real risk of costing the celebrity more than they benefit the endorsee. So celebs may want to think twice before hitting the stump.

But then how many hundred million dollars a year does an assistant professor at Fordham pull down?

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Newsday, Archdiocese of Colombo

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Personally I think she's behind him simply because hes black. Doesnt matter that white America made her what she is today, she's behind him because of the race.
Thats the bottom line.

Somebody just shoot me, please. I really can't believe this many people felt qualified to voice an opinion and none of them can do simple math. 13% of 74% is 17.6% which does round somewhat fairly to about 20%. With the obvious intellect of the average poster here, it does seem reasonable to me that we probably SHOULD let Britney run things. I'm sure some posters will be offended by my post; all I can say is 'tough', at least learn to read and get out you math book before you make a fool of yourself. Think I'll shut up as I've already made a fool of myself by even taking the time to respond.

I love Oprah and think she's one of the CLASSY women on this planet. A self made BILLIONAIRE! Amazing! Oprah is one the smartest women I've had the honor to meet and work for. What a genuine, caring, giving human being. God bless Oprah Winfrey for all the brilliant things she has done for women. And thank you, thank you, thank you, Oprah for introducing me to designer Nate and Sen. Obama. Both are winners.


LOL at the Oprah apologists who can't do basic math....

No wonder the Democrats find it easy to fool these people...

"...CBS poll found her favorable rating had plunged from 74% to 61%, still twice as good as the president but nearly a 20% drop"

While I can't agree or disagree with facts, I don't think the writer is wrong in his math, his sentence wasn't as clear as it could have been. I think he meant to say that she only has approximatly 80% of her original rank.

Let's take a look at the math: If we take the amount that she dropped, 13 percentage points, and divide that by her beginning amount, we get .1756 or 17.56%. Which is close to a 20% decrease in rank. Written another way (.74-.61)/.74 = .1756 (for the math people, this would be = Delta R / R = percent change of R)

I suspect some of the people who have commented here have better qualifications for being president than does Barack Obama.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when Oprah backed Obama. I used to just think the world of her and might have voted for her if she had run for office. Now I question her judgment and her ability to do correct research before she backs some one. The things that I have seen about Obama tell me he just isn’t the kind of leader we need for our country. He is all glitter and no substance. Ask people to tell you one bill he has written since he has been win Washington and had pass that helps all Americans. They can’t name one because they don’t know what he stands for, just that Hollywood backs him.

Rich white women made Oprah what she is today. And what does she do, suports a man that is nothing but an arrogant racist against whites and this country. Anybody else notice, that when Obama gave his "I am not a racist speech", he finally used not one but four of our United States of American flags to stand in front of. What a joke he is.

For all you dolts who are complaining about the math....he did not say a 20 percentage point reduction. He said a 20 percent reduction. The math is (74-61)/74 which in reality equals a 17.5% drop which then was rounded to 20%.

AND none the less, it is still a large drop which the impact of her support of Obama. What we do not know is if there are other circumstances impacting the drop.

I have had enough of everything. Obama, Oprah,
Hillary just everyone. We still have a long way to go
in this Presidental race and I am burned out!

Tired of Oprah. Don't watch her show and do not
drink her "Kool-Aid".

I love Ellen. She is the real thing. She doesn't make it
a hobby to make money off other people's misery.
She just is a pleasure to watch.

Oprah probably will have a permament office and bedroom down the hall from Barack Hussien Obama
Michelle! Oooo lalalalal.

And Auntie O sure won't be babysitting his kids!

Guess what, those of us in Fly Over country don't really care. Go Big 12.

Oprah used to be what Obama pretends to be---someone who could help us transcend racial divisions. Obama has failed miserably on his promise; in fact he has introduced more racial discord into the race than any politician in recent memory. His long association with Jeremiah Wright, his campaign's frequent and implausible assertions of racism at every turn and his own ham-handed characterization of his grandmother as a "typical white person" alienate people like me, who used to enjoy watching Oprah. Not so much any more.
And you can bet I wont be voting for Obama. Even though I'm a life-long democrat.

Oprah wound not speak out against Michael Vick .Now she wants everybody to get behind Obama,

I agree that Oprah certainly has a right to support who she wishes. But viewers also have the right to watch what they want on TV. I never watched her show, not because of anything she stands for, just isn't a type of show I watch. I am happy for her success however.

I don't care what Oprah Windbag says. I'm not votin' for no jug-eared fool.

I quit watching Oprah years ago....she got too political, too silly with our so-called stars for my taste.

And those women in the audience, they have looks on their faces like they have just seen a god!

For those statistical analysts who couldn't figure out why a drop from 74% to 61% was about a 20% drop, you ought to do some figuring of your own before criticizing the writer. Take 74 and subtract 61 and you get 13. 13 divided by 74 is .175675...... or 17.57%, which rounds up pretty fairly to "about 20%". Statistics are not really the story here, but they tend to show a little drop off in support. There is no argument presented that she doesn't have the right to support a candidate or a criticism of the candidate she is supporting. They are simply saying that she has had a drop off in favorability ratings.

The fact you disagree with Oprah or you feel Oprah made a mistake is a normal part of life. Chill out and drink decaf. Do you like everything your family has done? Will you cut them off when you disagree with them? We are all different and we all make mistakes but very few of us have done as much with their careers and for the poor as Oprah. Give her, and everyone else you disagree with, some slack and start looking for things we can accomplish together as none of the presidential candidates are ideal. God help us.

"This proves there are many idiots in the US. A decent lady that most people like, comes out in favor of someone from her state and her race, and people take their "positive" feeling away from someone? What a bunch of idiots. I get along with New Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals here in Canada, I respect any way they want to vote. Boy am I glad I don't live in the US of A "

We are glad you don't live here we don't need no advise from you folks up there who keep running south to get health care because of you failed system in Canada.

I used to tee vo Oprah everyday. I was dismayed that she entered into the political scene. Many of Oprahs viewers are Republicans. A while back Oprah had a show in which she let some women speak or write to her about how they felt sad and or angry when people disrespected the President and they wanted to be heard too. It is perceived correctly that she is left leaning. BUT, she also had O'Reilly on to take on the issue that we Conservatives who like the Oprah show and watch it are offended by the political track she has taken. I personally watch the online class with Oprah and Tolle. I have enjoyed every minute EXCEPT for when they both started talking about Obama and his race speech, two weeks ago. I was totally turned off and I feel it has NO place on a forum that is dedicated to the flowering of Human Consciousness. It was so out of place in the class and I was really shocked. How can anyone so popular so widely known and widely respected be ignorant of the fact that many many of her fans are Conservatives? It doesn't make sense. No actor, writer or ANY public figure who enjoys the MONEY that we the public pay them for their service should ever engage in politics. Everyone's politics should be a personal and private matter. The very fact that there is so much division in this country comes from everyone taking a position and advertising it and asking their friends and fans to be cool and go with "their" candidate. Keep your politics to yourself.!!! Vote your conscience. Don't follow famous peoples' politics. Its just common sense. Why would we want Oprah to tell us who to vote for.?Doesn't that make you feel really stupid and like a lemming or something? I don't like it. I like Oprah, shes a wonderful person but she took a misstep by getting into the Presidential race. I always thought she would support a Democrat but I didn't think she would use her power to divide them. She lost a few fans when she entered into politics full force. We all have our own feelings and beliefs and it has nothing to do with the lives that famous, immensely rich and powerful people feel about life. So why would anyone in the middle class of America think it is ok for a celebrity to tell you how to vote?

The way a 74% drop to 61% = almost 20% is that 20% of 74 = 14.8. 74-14.8=59.2, thus almost a 20% drop. The math is correct and so is the statement. Her favorable rating did "plunge" almost 20%.

Oprah lost me, a long time follower once she crossed the line of politics. She should have listened to he old adage -never dicuss religion, politics or money with your friends or famiy....well all of her followers are the reason she is where she is--so betray the followers by drawing a line in the stand of politics, religion or money--you will lose. Oprah has done great things and appears to have a heart of gold. I think it is a shame that she crossed the line-many people I know have lost respect for her...and if you dont have that-you dont have much. She lost commonality with republican women, she lost commonality with christians and that's a lot of people. We expect behaviour like that from hollywood stars because they are whacked anyway--but from Oprah whose judgement we al trusted...she is now just another hollywood liberal who is not one of us anymore. The other point is that she must of gotten she may be unconsciously sabotaging herself. If you are bored doing the same stuff-no challenge--you take on something new and there you go! If you are at the top you have nowhere to go! BUT if you fall down then you have somewhere to go---back up!!

The so-called Oprah effect is pure ether. Actually, the poll results show the that the public isn't as stupid as Oprah had hoped, mindlessly buying all the cruddy products and endorsements she is paid a King's ransom for performing her commercial pimping services. No politico can hope the celebrity factor will woo the public. John Flounder Kerry hoped to conscript Jon Bon Jovi's free concerts to turn out the youth vote in his favor. Didn't happen. Other musicians have similarly failed. They're just like anybody else: they have opinions and they all stink. Nobody is going to be swayed just because some pretty-faced idiot says everyone should vote their recommendation.

I used to be a passionate about watching the Oprah show.
Not anymore, I'm very disappointed in her as she said so many times on her show, that she would never get involved in Politics. Well, I don't know why she changed her mind? She says Obama is brilliant! I say he is a very excellent speaker, but President material? I guess he even fooled Oprah with his way with words.
Just to know that he is a member of that church for 20 years and wants to tell us that he didn't know the HATRED
against America, that was preached there by the Pastor Wright. Oprah realized what was going on in that church, did she know that Obama is still a member there?
Well... Obama is not getting my vote.
I hope people wake up and check a bit deeper into the life of Obama and his church.
My vote goes to HIllary!!!!

I am not surprised by this drop in "favorability".

I used to be a major Oprah fan, but felt she crossed the line with the Obama endorsement.
She should have stayed neutral and could been an influencer in the process by hosting discussions and debates on the issues and how they effect women.

This is the beginning of the erosion from her core base of support and fans.

She picked a BROTHER, she gets what she deserves...
Opra is another UNCLE TOM!

Isn't it interesting that almost every black person out there, who previously fell all aver themselves for the Clintons, is now supporting Obama? It's not about right, wrong, experience, or's about their "peeps!"

I am not surprised by this drop in "favorability".

I used to be a major Oprah fan, but felt she crossed the line with the Obama endorsement.
She should have stayed neutral and could been an influencer in the process by hosting discussions and debates on the issues and how they effect women.

This is the beginning of the erosion from her core base of support and fans.

"...CBS poll found her favorable rating had plunged from 74% to 61%, still twice as good as the president but nearly a 20% drop."
----UMM... duh, that's only a 13% drop, so even if you round it it would be closer to 10% than 20% first of all, secondly that's a poll that was taken LAST AUGUST, who the hell is throwing around results of polls from over 9 months ago???

Oh and I really respect the results of a aol tv popularity survey...sounds REALLY scientific...give me a break all and all just a BAD ariticle. What the hell is the point here? Celebrities shouldn't endorse canidates?

(Dearest Peter--You and everyone else here thinking that a drop from 74% to 61% isn't "nearly a 20% drop" need to re-learn how to calculate percentages. It's a drop of 13 points. 13 divided by 74 = 17.6%. That's "nearly a 20% drop." Thanks for reading.)

Posted by: peter

No peter!!! I'm sorry you're wrong. If you read the article properly you would see that it said a drop of approval from 74% to 61%. Nowhere did it say anything about points. Sorry that you cannot read numbers properly. So please stop trying to sound intelligent and finding coincidences in numbers that oppose the fact that 74-61 is indeed 13.

Oprah's self-made billionaire status proves that racism is no longer a problem in our country. Thanks, Oprah! We were getting tired of all the race baiters like Rev. Wrong.

Works both ways. Take Richardson for example, he is now referred too as Governor Judas by most progressive
politically savvys. Hanoi Jane's 2 cents has left a stench
on the guy who cant distinguish between the gospel and
racist,anti-american hate propaganda, while Fonda just
received the same quasi-unanimous condemnation she
has been getting for decades.
Note to the would-be mathematicians. Close to a 20 % drop is accurate when you factor in the 5 and 6% margin
of error, on both the 74% and 61 %. Obama fans are
famous for always interpreting margins in favor of Rezko's protégé.

I am amazed at the shear number of people of who are complaining that there was really a 13% drop not the reported " 20% drop".

The person who said it was 17.5 was right.

"74% to 61%, still twice as good as the president but nearly a 20% drop."

The drop from 74 to 61 represents as 17.57% change (aka "drop"). Yes, the difference between 74 to 61 is 13 but that is not the same as 13% .

I hope none of you home-school your kids.

"... her favorable rating had plunged from 74% to 61%, still twice as good as the president but nearly a 20% drop."

13 is nearly 20. Never knew.

First anyone who follows the lead of a celebrity has a serious problem.
Secondly, anyone who thinks they KNOW a celebrity because they see, or hear him or her on TV,, also has a problem.
Oprah supports Obama because he is black. And she thinks he has a chance to win. Nothing more than reverse racism. His being black is the reason she jumped in for the first time. Does she has the right? Sure. But her viewers ought to understand why she did what she did.
Is we whites now support any white just because he or she IS white, we are doing nothing Oprah didn't do first.
Use color as the basis for support. How dumb. How sad.
Americans, how about reading a little and finding out if the people you place such trust in are worth it.
Do you listen to what candidates say and then ask yourself if it’s too good to be true, if you've heard it all before, who is going to pay for it? You should.
Do you listen to what they say and then go see how they voted? Look for yourself? You should. You will be surprised at how many times someone says something directly the opposite of how they vote.
Or do you tune in these networks or read your favorite newspaper completely oblivious to the fact that none of them are telling the truth anymore. That truth has gone out of style.
A good piece of advice is: don't believe everything you hear. Talk is cheap. Find out what your candidate has done, has voted for, and actually stands for. Don’t accept his words as fact because he says them. Remember the candidate is selling something and YOU are the buyer he/she wants to influence. If you want to vote for the right person, you need to find out a few things for yourself. Read – Reason – React.

Actually when you add the 5 %(margin of error ) her score fell by 24.3 % or close to 25 % (13+5=18/74=24.3
Watch BO's numbers plummet as more zombies come too.

It astounds me when entertainers take sides in political issues. I refuse to support those with differing opinions than myself. Not that I watched Oprah anyway, now I have no respect for her.

I'm guessing that there were a disproportionate number of lesbians participating in this poll.

Please wake up. Obama is a snake-oil salesman…talks a great game, but his product has no substance.

“Oh but he is going to CHANGE things.” You call a politician who promises everyone everything they could ever want in an effort to get elected CHANGE? Actually, that is the same old politics that have been around for centuries.

Obama and his “magic wand that will fix everything” act are bought by the young, because they are anti-establishment, impressionable, and naive. 90% of the African American community likes him simply because he is black. The rest are so blinded by their hatred of Bush, which in turn makes them so desperate to win, that they’re willing to hire a CEO for our country who has a blank resume. Try putting down your pompoms long enough to ask why, with all of these great ideas he has, he never drafted a bill as a Senator to get ANY of it done.

He’s going to end racism throughout the entire county! He couldn’t even end the racism in his own church…or with his own wife for that matter, let alone the country. However, you all buy into his speeches (as if he wrote them) without thinking for yourself about what you are really being asked to believe…and you do it simply b/c he speaks well. You all are a marketing executive’s dream - gullible and prone to base your opinion on 30 second commercials and short sound bites.

You know…Billy Mays (Oxy Clean salesman) speaks really well too; maybe we should elect him President. Oh, but that wouldn’t work b/c he’s white and thus wouldn’t give everyone their “see, I’m not a racist…I support Obama” feeling of self-righteousness.

You white folks are about as crazy as we thougtht you were. I can show you a poll where her numbers went up.

white folks - we know it is hard for you to grashp the idea of a black man being in your white house - get over it. You have been doing bad for so long you think it right.

Also, I do not heink Oprah gives a f*&( about your poll - as long as the banks are open

The author's use of statistics in this article is proof positive that there are three types of people in this world; those who can count and those who cannot.

Gerry Springer out smarted Oprah on this item and his
favourables are way up there close to mother Theresa
despite the fact that he is also an avowed liberal Dem.
Gerry is working to get Obama's granny and Hillary's
mom to fight it out on his next show. Carville and Judas
wii be coaching the ladys and acting to assure a minimum
of christian restraint in the scuffle.

The analysis done by Panagopoulos is a joke. Let's analize the last data element she brings out. That the AOL poll of over 1 million somethings like Ellen rather than Oprah. Just looking at the numbers tell you that the poll was one of the "Vote" online options since no scientific pollster would sample more than a few thousand households. Taking that into account you need to look at the demographic of most people who are online and that would be younger folks under the age of 35. I suspect that this age element does not match that of Oprah's and therefore this fact and therefore invalidates Panagopoulos analysis. For a scientific poll you need to carefully select you samples to ensure other factors, such as the age of the sample, does not adversely impact the results. Anyone how had taken one statistics course would know this fact. Apparently, Panagopoulos never took this course and therefore shouldn't be reporting anything.

Shame on Panagopoulos and shame on the LA Times for reporting her ridiculous report. I had heard that the Times had fallen in quality since I lived in LA in the '80s but I didn't realize how far they had collapsed. Sad.

Why is it assumed her popularity is plummeting for supporting Obama? More likely its for her hard sell of this new age crap she's selling. The woman sold her soul to the corporatacracy and everyone knows it.

Reading the comments here only further reinforces my belief that left wing Oprah lovers have no math skills.
Obviously, they all gathered-round the quad to smoke dope and sing "Kum Ba Yah" at the expense of their math education.
A drop from 74 to 61 percent is a 13 point drop.
Now lets figure how much of a percentage drop that equals. The calculation is:
13 divided by 74 which equals .175675... and PRETTY CLOSE TO 20 PERCENT.

And here is a point for all of you to ponder (as you stare at your navel). Half of America is below average.

So this professor is basing his theory on an internet poll? An internet poll taken at AOL? Who even uses AOL? This is not a scientific poll, end of story.

Oprah is the latest new-age guru. Many people have stopped watching her because she is leading people astray with garbage like "The Secret" and other bilge she's pushing on her show. I have no respect for this woman. She is so self-absorbed and thinks she can do no wrong. She supports an inexperienced, racist anti-Semite for President. As my grandmother used to say, she's gotten too big for her britches.

Hey, Lincoln...

It just drives kool-ade bigots like you crazy that FOX News presents BOTH sides of any issue. Not only both sides, but they invite CREDIBLE, ARTICULATE guests to fairly represent each side.

Both sides? What a concept... You've probably never seen that on your news network. CNN? MSNBC?


the number of retards that complained about 74% to 61% not being "close to a 20% drop" is testament to how many of our schools are failing you. Good grief this s so sad and pathetic.

Based on poll numbers Oprah is losing out among mostly Lesbians & White Women that did not attend college. She might be down a little for now but when Obama becomes President her popularity will rise again.

Don't believe the current McCain Obama poll numbers. I estimate that there will be a gigantic shift in the election and thanks to George W. Bush Obama will get at least 55% of the popular vote. We haven't even started to see the first time voters start registering. That will happen after the Democratic nomination is sewn up.

I've never understood the adulation of this arrogant..guess who's on the cover of my magazine this month...woman. She is a con job and so is her messiah with feet of clay. They were made for each other. Who the hell needs orphah to tell them what to read..America picks strange idols..indeed.Check out the earmarks that obama made for his wife's employer..check out how his wife's salary tripled when he won his senate gig..check out obama's false claims that the kennedy family brought his father to the US..(washington post) It's a lie and a con and Caroline Kennedy waxed "poetic" about the close bond across the miles of these two families..It was a load of dingoes' kidneys and you never heard from her again.check out the stories of obama handlers making sure that more "white" people are seen behind him and his wife at campaign stops.. Check out Tony Rezko and Obama if you think he's so pure and finally..will his spiritual advisor swerat him in with a "God damn America " speech.. I can't wait.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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