Barack Obama and the Oprah Factor

Mark Halperin argues, persuasively, that the active support of Oprah Winfrey is unlikely to be a major factor in Barack Obama’s electoral success.

Barack Obama and the Oprah Factor (l. to r.): U.S. Senator Barack Obama, his wife Michelle Obama, and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Harpo, Inc. / REUTERS Winfrey’s endorsement — and her announcement that she will appear with Obama at campaign events in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire on December 8 and 9 — helps bring the following four things to Obama: campaign cash, celebrity, excitement and big crowds.

The four things that Obama has on his own in great abundance — without Winfrey’s help — are campaign cash, celebrity, excitement and big crowds.

More substantively, he argues that Obama’s main hurdle to the nomination is convincing voters that he’s experienced enough to be commander-in-chief. Winfrey’s not going to be of much help, there.

He’s right. Still, there’s no obvious down side to her support. Unlike, say, the Chuck Norris endorsement of Mike Huckabee (or, better yet, the Ric Flair endorsement of Mike Huckabee) there’s no ridicule factor likely to come out of it.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. markm says:

    “Still, there’s no obvious down side to her support”

    …unless the campaign all of a sudden has problems like her school in Africa…..

    I keed.

  2. Triumph says:

    It is clear that this is a last-ditch effort by B. Hussein to play the race card. I assume that it will be about as successful as his South Side Chicago brother, Jesse Jackson’s effort to do the same thing back in 1988.

    Remember, Oprah also supported both of messy Jesse’s failed presidential bids.

  3. just me says:

    The real problem with Oprah is that she is mostly popular with middle aged white women.

    Not exactly the demographic Obama is aiming for.

  4. Wayne says:

    “Middle aged white women” were the main voting block that put Bill in office.

    I never care much for endorsements but some do. I think Oprah, Norris and Flair have as much if not more influence as endorsements from politicians or newspapers. They also have more influence then most typical Hollywood celebrities.

    Also Norris and Flair endorsements had more of an impact on Huckabees campaign then most since it gave Huckabee much needed publicity and name recognition. All of which Huckabee Campaign was in great need of. It has snowball somewhat but wither that snowball affect will continue is anyone’s guess. If they had endorsed Rudy, it wouldn’t have made nearly the impact.