Back in August The Observer wondered whether Oprah Winfrey could convince people to vote for her favorite presidential candidate as effectively as she could get them to read her favorite book. Asked whether the endorsement would have any effect on the election, most commentators told The Observer it would, as it’d give Sen. Obama all kinds of crucial votes from the millions of impressionable, middle-aged ladies who watch Oprah’s show.
Now we’ve got some data. According to a new survey about celebrity endorsements [pdf] conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the Oprah seal of approval will help as much as it’ll hurt with the electorate as a whole: 15% of those interviewed said they were more likely to vote for a candidate she supports and 15% said they’d be less likely. 69% said it wouldn’t make a difference.
But among Democrats surveyed, 23% said they would be more likely to vote for an Oprah-backed candidate, and only 13% said they’d be less likely. So in the Demcratic primary, Oprah’s support may be worth having.
It’s also interesting that 60% of those questioned said the endorsement would help Sen. Obama’s candidacy; this translates roughly to “I don’t care but others will,” which could mean one of two things: either the people interviewed were embarrassed to say Oprah’s opinion mattered to them, or the survey just didn’t reach a lot of her fans.