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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

Comments () | Archives (515)

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People who are now finding themselves unable to pull away from a "Rev" and a preachy media personality who are NOW recognized as "preaching" evil, would have to classify themselves as addicted cult members. One of their cult leaders preaches a wholly different "god" - a "god" who would "damn" a nation at the call of some self righteous bigot who $$ benefits off his "choir"; and the other now uses her influence to bring to them paganism/new age opposition to the true God. Go figure. I guess popularity makes you stupid. (and the difference is actually closer to 18% in the fall of Oprah if you do your math correctly, using the 74% as the starting point; not a full 100%)

It is unbelievable that you guys think Oprah cares about what you think. She did not get where she is today paying attention to opinions, and slip of the the lips. Oprah had Barack on her tv show, and it is her business, her money, her show, who she chooses to have. Again, that is why the govt treat us as US citizens like dummies, because of what comes up comes out of the mouth. You folks watch too many lies from the media until it is controlling how you think and speak. A good book would do some of you good. Go Oprah! Go Obama! As far as Rev Wright, his statements some are true, and some taken out of context. It is amazing the hateful and lack of knowledge some of these comments display. Take your energy and have the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 changed. Try a little love for all mankind and it will do some of you some good. Miserable folks!

OK, this is why Asia is overtaking the US in all math related fields...

A drop from 74% to 61% is a drop of 18%. Morons. If she had a 50% rating and went to 25% it would be a 50% drop in popularity. Why? Because 25 is 50% of 50. You can say "Oprah dropped 13 percentage points," But you can't say that she lost 13% of her popularity, because 61 is 82% of 74 (or a decrease in 18%)

For all you math types, a drop of 74% to 61% is indeed an 18% drop, as well as a 13 point drop. Do you think an increase in a sales tax from 5% to 6% is a 1% increase? It is not, it is a 20% increase, as well as a 1 point increase.

As already mentioned by another poster above - How is 74-61=20????

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

In the world outside this article 74-61=13. So between 10 and 15. If you have to round it between 10 and 20, it would be 10.

Please remove this from the article, it makes you look stupid.

hello all you math majors do you realize that 61% is 80% of 74% therefore a 13 point drop is a 20% drop NOT 13% drop..

Now children, what percentage did it drop from 74 to 61?


13/74=0.1756=17.6% which is rounded to 20% for the article.

Hey, to all you brilliant minds from these posting. . .

I guess having been brainwashed and deluded for so long by your liberal goddess and messiah that you all can't even comprehend simple math.

Here's a quick lesson: When you see an expression of "percent" it means the change in results relative to the base. When you see an expression of "points" it means the absolute change in the result.

So, in this case, a change in "percent" from 74% to 61% would look like this:
[(61% - 74%)/74%] x 100 = -17.6%

Rounding this figure would put it closer to a 20% drop that the article stated.

You know, once a in a while, it's OK to walk away from the TV and pick up a basic arithmetic book to keep you brain from shrinking too fast. Don't worry, your liberal mainstream media will repeat endlessly those O shows and your other O "change" speeches, so you can catch them after you get a little exercise for your little brains.

It's no wonder you zombies are so impressed w/ those 2 O's. What's the difference between you droopy and lazy-minded liberal zombies and those people from the various cults that the media is always quick to pick on? In essence, nothing. You're all mindless and easily manipulated by charismatic fools. In fact, your unconditional worship of your empty suit idols makes your cause the largest public cult there is.

OK, you can now go back to your deep slumber.

I am embarrassed for all of the mental midgets who think that a drop from 74 to 61 is only a 13% decline. That simplistic level of thinking causes problems for everyone when it proliferates throughout society.

As usual, your liberal lack of education and forethought precludes reasonable outcome.

...Oh! I know! Let's ALL quit our jobs and just eat entitlement candy from now on! ...

God forgive us for we even grace you with a vote.

The last time I watch anything with Oprah in it (besides The Color Purple) was a special she had on TV regarding infidelity. This was many years ago. She opened the show with the comment that xx% of married women have had affairs, while yy% of men have cheated. (I don't remember the exact figures). I switched channels and have never listened to anything she had to say after that.

Sorry Hillary, I'm not buying this story.
As a woman, it blows my mind that women can't think past the gender and are willing to throw their support behind a controlling, physcotic and pathological liar like Hillary and turn their back on an extremly smart and successful woman like Oprah.
It will be short lived.
And Hillary kool-aid drinkers can go to Jerry Springer.
They are an embarassment to smart women .

For me, the drop in Oprah's drop in popularity is because of her endorsement of "The Secret" and the "New Age Jesus" writings of Eckhart Tolle. This has alienated religious conservatives--at least in my part of the world. I have since stopped watching her show.

If i was Oprah Winfrey, I would not give a damn If I lose support from white women who are nothing bunch of cry babies who don't ge their way. Oprah has every right to support anyone she chooses. I wouldn't want to be supported by fake feminists who still live in the dark ages. They support a women regardless if she is the right women or not. So what they are saying is women don't have the right to think for themselves? Oprah is my role model and will always be.

My mother and I simultaneously said the same thing. "I’ll never watch her again."

And we are both Dems.

We must make wise decisions based upon facts and quality, not passions.

We want an intelligent president. Not a charismatic one.

Oprah Winfrey's existence, opinions, and political endorsements are irrelevant.

Let's face it. She pulled the black card. Just like when she defended OJ.

I TIVO the View now.

to Wondering:

61% is 82% of 74%. Therefore Opie's popularity was reduced to 82% of its original magnitude, which is another way of saying she lost 18% of her popularity.

There is a obvious need for a primary. The LA Times writes have too much time on their hands.

I admire Oprah's abilities. I don't watch very much television though. Too many other things to do. Mr. B. Obama may end up being our next president. Right now only the Lord God knows. If he becomes our president, I will pray for him as I pray for Mr. G. Bush now. I read all the above posts and enjoyed the banter back and forth about the math. I admire Ms. H. Clinton's drive and energy. I think Mr. J. Mc Cain is too liberal but will stand at the helm to watch over our country with a strong arm. Regardless of who is elected, Americans need to call upon the Lord God to guide us as a Nation and then we should live like He wants us to. Oprah believes the God essence is inside her. I believe I was born with a sinful nature and only our creator can repair that. That is why he sent His only son Jesus to become a servant for each of us and offer His life up as an atonement for all of mankinds sins. OK...Let her rip...

Some postings (most likely from Obama's supporters - please don't tell me you also support the Teacher's Union) questioned the arithmatic of 20% drop in O's favorable rating. Here's basic math for you: (74% - 61%)/74% = 17.6% drop.


Pay no attention to Lincoln's comments. He is nothing but a troll and gets off reading those that have directly commented to his post.

As far as Oprah is concerned, she can support whoever she wants. It's a free country. Between Obama, Clinton, & McCain, I do not care for any of them. However, Obama's recent past regarding Reverend Wright and his inflammatory remarks makes me think twice. I don't trust him and it scares the bejeezers out of me that Obama has so many blind sheep that support and follow him. In fact, this is the first time I actually voted democrat (Clinton) just to help decrease Obama's chances of winning the democratic nomination.

One thing is for sure. If Obama wins the democratic nomination, my wife will vote republican, as well as the rest of my family.

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

13 is nearly 20?

Math: 20% * 74% = 14.8. 74-14.8 = 59. That is why it is close to a 20% drop. It is the correct math. If 74 people liked her, now 61 or so do, that is close to 20% of her overall support (representing 13 less people) has left her.

I believe Oprah will implode under the incredible weight and pressure of her own ego and her propmotion of this false and un-Godly new age religion she is touting.

God has a way of dealing with his creatures...great and small.

Please pray for Our Lady of America's enthronement during Pope Benedict's visit next week.

Oprah lost me before the election. The election was just reasurance to me that she is heading in the wrong direction. She lost me when she started getting into all that NEW AGE crap.

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

Posted by: Canuck | April 09, 2008 at 01:53 PM
So are we.

I say its more this than Obama. I'm sure some of the sermons coming from his church didn't help or this guy who is also his spiritual advisor.
hasn't helped much either. If this dude wins the nomination the republicans will burry him. He's got more stuff in the closet than imelda marcos

Frankly I have stopped watching Oprah because of her very New Age beliefs, and one reason I have stopped endorsing Obama because of his affiliation with Oprah.

All of you folks who have been obsessing over the supposed rounding up of 13% to 20%, please quit whining.

If O's approval numbers went down from 74% to 61%, yes that's 13% of all those who held a view, but I think what he meant was that the 13% she had lost represents about one-fifth (hello, 20%) of the people that had formerly held a favorable view of her. 13 / 74 is about equal to 18%, which does round up nicely to 20%, especially when the margin of error is factored in.

Whether this was an intentional "spin" of the facts or just poorly written is debatable, but get out your own calculators before you start whining about the writer's math.

More importantly, though, who gives a damn who Oprah supports? Can't you people think for yourselves? Who supports a candidate tells me a whole lot less about him or her than who he or she supports (like, for example, a racist, America-hating preacher.)

Very interesting article and worthy of debate. Celebrities that go out of their way to advocate a political or issue may suffer from those who do not share their position. The stronger the advocacy, the deeper they fall.

Oprah has definitely taken an almost 20% hit because her previously neutral position has now alienated part of the populace.

Other actors have taken similar hits in the past: Tom Cruise, Rosie O'Donnell, etc. Had they stated they do not know enough about politics and focused on their personal brand, they would remain much more popular.

I'm still in shock a month later that a potential president of the United States would have sat and listened to what amounted to treason against the United States. But he wants to urgently be president? I'm very concerned over Obama getting any national secrets into his fold.

I'm still in shock a month later that a potential president of the United States would have sat and listened to what amounted to treason against the United States. But he wants to urgently be president? I'm very concerned over Obama getting any national secrets into his fold.

There is too much talk about Obama and his pastor. How come no one condemns McCain for associating with Faldwell, who said that God punished America with 9/11 and the America deserved it. I don't see people showing concern for that. Essential the same thing - one by a white and one by a black. Naturally the black man is condemned. American justice!

Oprah is not stupid, she understands the risks of going into politics. Sometimes you just have to take a stand for what you believe in. I am not an Obama supporter but I do support people's right to free speech.

I like Oprah but I wouldn't exactly say I'm a fan, I always found her show to be too much fluff and not enough substance. I am opposed to Obama being president for mostly ideological reasons although I do like the man's personality. I think that celebrities have just as much of a right to be politically active and I applaude her for making a stand. I am not going to boycott any celebrity because of their political stance so long as it doesn't rise to the level of treason. One thing I found offensive about Mr.Malcolm's article was his reffering to Oprah as an "aging empress". This is blatant sexism, would Mr.Malcolm refer to any 54 year old man as an "aging emperor"? I think not.

Everyone: it's a 13 POINT drop, and a 17.5 % drop. This is why statistics are ALWAYS misleading.

It actually has seemed like Oprah has become more negative and racial in her tone. I know she is a powerful woman and probably feels a duty to help a fellow African American win the Presidency. I can understand her excitement for that. But over the past year or two her attitude has changed. I think the first time I saw this was when she had some dinner and celebration of African American women who've contributed over the years. It wasn't about the fact she did this, I though it was a great idea, but she made everyone specifically wear white or black and then shows up in a brilliant and beautiful red dress. It was also a statement she made as to why she chose Africa for her school, saying American youth just wanted ipod etc..., There are 300 million of us and I'm uncertain of the percentage of youth, but we have some truely amazing kids here dealing with things we couldn't even imagine and yet striving for an education and their role in our future....not just style or ipods. So many teens out there are not that shallow. I think she sold them short. Plus if she sincerely believed this of them, maybe she should have given them a wake up call and some words of wisdom as to how material things matter little over the long run and how they should focus more on their future?

I don't know her, don't know her motivations even with all she says on t.v. But I have noticed this change. It's a disconnect from her audience. Maybe a "star or queenly" attitude as if all the power is getting to her and changing her behavior. Which is also understandable. They say that kind of power does change a person and you can get caught up in the hype about you. I mean I shouldn't expect her to be Mother Teresa.

The cost is a reaction to Opera's choosing race over gender - period.

OK folks, for those that can't do simple math, the percentage decrease from 74 to 61 is about 18%. We all know that 74% minus 61% is 13%, but that is not what the article was calculating. The net percentage change was 13%, and if you decrease 74 by 17.6%, you get 61. Magic!!!

To Mr. J Woods,
What pieces of legislation did Senator Obama write and have passed?
As for the Trinity Church…did you know that Benito Mussolini created social security, helped the seniors of Italy immensely, was anti Hitler (planned on attacking Hitler in 1938) was not an anti Semite (mistress was Jewish, MANY Italian fascists were Jewish)
Virtually wiped out crime in Italy (until the United States invasion of southern Italy which released early “mafia” members in order to create “an underground movement to over throw the Fascists), improved the quality of life for Italians, improved women’s rights, helped wipe out child labor…I can go on and on…does all the above make him a nice guy? By the way…Mussolini considered himself a pragmatist, and progressive.
There is MUCH more to Mussolini than the “30 second clips” one sees on the History channel….BUT he did not offer Yoga classes…CRIMINAL!
No I am not a Fascist…as Fascism springs from the same roots as Liberalism…

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

Holy crap. Who is doing that math? George Bush? 13% is a hell of a long way from 20%, but nice try.

If any of you would bother reading the original article in you would find two things.

Both CNN and Fox reported a drop in Oprah's popularity. This is not a partisan issue.

And for the second point that every one is getting all hyped up about - the combined drop in her popularity went from 74% down to 55% (about a 20% drop). I will agree that this article didn't make it very clear and could have been written better.

But doesn't anybody ever take some time to do a tiny bit of research before they post comment?

Since when is going from 74% to 61% 'nearly a 20% drop'? It's 13 by my calculation.

I look at this article and then I read the comments. I still see people trying to defend the indefensable and as usual blame others for their mis-fortunes. How pathetic and simple minded not to take responsibility. But after seeing how these morons on here did their math, I can see how these kool-aid drinking idiots would vote for Barack Hussein Obama. Lets rehash this for the umm... Math impaired. If you can read it states she had a 78% rating in 1996, it then dropped to 74% in a poll about 14 months ago. Then recently it dropped to to 61%. So lets work thru this simple math for you guys who are math challenged. 78%-61%=17% wow, see how easy that is. and if you round up, you have "nearly 20%" as the article states. Do me a favor, get off the computer because you are too dumb to own one and practice your math then I can take you seriously next time you open your pie-hole.

If this survey was done by Fox then I do not believe it. 75% of Foxnews listners would not like Oprah whether she supported Barack or not. Anyone that likes Hannity definitely would not like Oprah.

You must be a dailykoser, or a huffington post peruser!!
I watch Fox, I watch Hannity, I will only watch Oprah now when she DOESN'T have entertainers on.
As OReilly confronted her with, she has a much higher percentage of liberal's and Dimocrats.
And with most celebs who endorse someone, they are turning off 50% of their clientele, as she did.
They all need to Shut Up and Act, Shut Up and Sing, and Shut up and Host.....

Stop responding to this nonsense, you're being played. This blog is playing fast and loose with the truth in order to provoke as many comments/posts as possible.The success of any blog is determined by the number of people who participate. We all took the bait and the writer keeps his job.

Google for the words clinton + bad blood , very interesting

Hey Dummies,

Subtract 20% from 74 and see what you get. It's 5th grade math. Andrew is right.

The real reason why Oprah's ratings have dropped so low is not only because of her support for Obama (which I don't have a problem with) but is rather due to her pushing of her new age ideoligies. I think she should have the right to push whomever she chooses but I know I for one have become very uncomfortable with her of late. That book she is promoting goes against Christian teachings so many of us grew up with and hold on to....

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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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