Did Obama Rise as Oprah Waned?

Oprah’s favorability ratings appear to have dropped since she campaigned for Obama in Iowa in December and in California in early February.

Costas Panagopoulos, an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University and director of Fordham’s Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy, cites several favorability polls to make his point.

He writes in The Politico that “an 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 (who has not officially endorsed but appeared at a Clinton fund-raiser), compared with 14 percent who preferred Oprah.”

Judging just by the comments on her own Website, I don’t doubt that Winfrey lost fans, even popularity, especially among die-hard Clinton supporters. Winfrey herself admits that she’s gotten a bit of flack for the Obama nod. But I have my doubts as to how big an impact her Obama endorsement has had on her show.

Panagopoulos cites other polls, but the AOL survey got a lot of attention when it was released. It drew 1.35 million votes, a hefty figure, but it was not a scientific measurement (as absurd as that sounds). In the last week of March, the same week that the survey results were announced, Winfrey’s ratings actually were up 4% and Ellen’s dropped by 13%.

My guess is that this has little to do with politics and more to do with who the guests are that week. When Oprah had the “pregnant man” on last Thursday, it drew some of her best ratings of the season.

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