The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Pollster

The Missing Oprah Bounce

There is a 30-percentage point hill between Barack Obama and national front-runner Hillary Clinton in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, and few said his most recent effort to close the gap, by bringing talk-show impresario Oprah Winfrey out on the campaign trail, would sway their votes.

More than eight in 10 Democrats said Winfrey's endorsement would not make any difference come primary day, and about as many said it made them less likely to support Obama (10 percent) as said it raised their interest in the Illinois senator (8 percent).

According to the poll, Winfrey's outreach will be most successful among African Americans. Sixteen percent said they were more likely to support Obama as a result of her endorsement; among black women the figure was 19 percent.

But among those Obama most needs to reach -- people who are not already Obama supporters and early-state voters -- the star-powered campaign might be a burnout. Among people supporting other candidates, 12 percent said Oprah's campaigning turned them away from Obama, while 5 percent had a positive reaction. Nearly nine in 10 of those who live in states that vote on Feb. 5 or earlier said she would have no impact at all.

To reach potential voters, Obama will have to convince them on the issues (a tough sell when Clinton, nationally, has 2-1 or greater advantages on four that are atop voters' lists). Two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents placed a great deal of weight on candidates' issue positions, while only 8 percent said the same of candidate endorsements from entertainment figures or other celebrities.

Full question wording and methodology for the Washington Post-ABC News poll can be found here.

--Jennifer Agiesta

Posted at 6:22 PM ET on Dec 11, 2007  | Category:  The Pollster
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Anyone checked out the new polls today ?
Obama all tied up with Clinton in New Hampshire ? And there's a new Strategic Vision poll coming out tomorrow that shows him with a seven point lead in Iowa.

One poll said that his boost in New Hampshire came directly from the Oprah visit !

Posted by: vbalfour | December 12, 2007 2:56 PM

Like others, I'm a bit surprised to see a pollster jump to the conclusion that there is no oprah bounce. Whether people say they are impacted by endorsements or not is largely irrelevant. Instead, the raw numbers from polls taken this week will be a better indicator of whether Sen Obama is making progress. Perhaps on Friday or early next week we'll see new data & be able to start drawing conclusions about whether or not there is a bounce. I'm most interested in the SC data, where the demographics theoretically are most conducive to a positive Oprah bounce for Sen Obama.

Posted by: bsimon | December 12, 2007 9:56 AM

dyck21005 has spent a lot of time over the last few days posting these lies about Obama being a Muslim. Apparently his own candidate is so pathetic that there's no way to promote him/her without slandering the opposition. Too bad.

He's right about one thing, though. That post about Obama being a MUSLIM can be found on Specifically, it's the post that Snopes is debunking. Take a look for yourself:

Posted by: Blarg | December 12, 2007 9:29 AM

Why am I not surprised about that last post? If it worked for Romney being a Mormon, why not bring the fact that Barack HUSSEIN (as in... wait for it... Saddam) Obama (sounds like... wait for it... Osama) is a closet Muslim and will sell this Christian country to the roving Muslim hordes about to steal our pure Christian daughters and make them wear burkas.

By that same factor, Governor Bobby Jindal will ban crawfish and burgers in Louisiana. After all you know, he's a closet Hindu who became a Catholic out of convenience and really wants to make cows sacred in his state.

Instead why don't we support or oppose candidates for their policies. There is enough material on the junior Senator from Illinois to rake him over the coals without having to resort to veiled name-calling and his religious bigotry.

Posted by: Kruhnn | December 12, 2007 9:19 AM

We checked this out on "". It is factual. Check for yourself. Probable U.S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHIEST from Wichita, Kansas. Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya . His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia.? When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school. Obama t akes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school." Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that he is no longer Muslim. Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education. Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta . Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.

Posted by: dyck21005 | December 12, 2007 8:30 AM

Actually, unless Huckabee makes a break for it in NH after winning Iowa or Romney surges back in Iowa, this could be a long season for the GOP. As it stands, Giulliani could survive by finishing close second or third in early states and winning all the big states: Florida, PA, NY, NJ, IL, CA and perhaps OH as well and if he wins WA, OR, CT, WI, MN, HI, DE and MD, he will have 40-45% of all the delegates. Meanwhile, Huckabee could win all the 13 states except Florida in the South, Plain States as well as MO and WV. Finally, Romney could win most of New England, Rocky Mountain States, MI and AK and this one could be a brokered convention or could end up in the courts.

On the Dem side, the race is very fluid in the early states.

Posted by: gchraj | December 12, 2007 8:04 AM

it's obvious the only people who can be swayed by oprah are diehard fans who don't have minds of their own & will probably not vote. the poorly educated. obese stay at home moms binging on cream donuts. sigh. and oprah's tv show ratings declined 20%. tough sell for obambi!

Posted by: mikel1 | December 12, 2007 7:11 AM

boy are pundits dumb. Oprah was suppose to bring people out to listen to Obama.
that was her job and she did it well.
Even Chris Matthews thinks it's a load of crap about this so called bounce.
You in the beltway seem to think Oprah was suppose to make people want to vote for Obama. No. It was for her to bring out people who may not have heard him before and what his message is.
She brought them out and he made the sale and is doing follow up with those who attended.

Posted by: vwcat | December 11, 2007 11:05 PM

"about as many said it made them less likely to support Obama (10 percent) as said it raised their interest in the Illinois senator (8 percent)."

So gentle. Would "more said" be too harsh?

Posted by: zukermand | December 11, 2007 10:26 PM

christophefiero--Absolutely right! I hold no illusion that Oprah endorsing Obama is going to directly make more than maybe 0.5% of the electorate change their choice. What it does, though, is expose all of these people who can then make a decision for themselves.

It is more of a "Hey, who is this Obama guy? Maybe I will investigate him a bit." than a "Must..Obey..Oprah..Must..Vote..Obama..Bzzt."

Posted by: roo_P | December 11, 2007 9:25 PM

I have to agree with the first three comments. In addition, it it contradicted by a recent Pew Research poll.

I think the "Oprah Effect" will be greater than many would like to think. And remember, endorsements are not orders. They are personal statements about why a particular person believes a particular person would do well in office. Each of us writing here or on other sites is delivering an endorsement of our own -- often based on no more viable information than our gut feelings. That said...

OBAMA '08!

Posted by: jade7243 | December 11, 2007 9:16 PM




Posted by: holdencaulfield | December 11, 2007 7:42 PM

This way of asking people is not serious. Of course not much people will support a candidate because of a celebrity. But you ignore that the celebrity helped you get exposed to a specific candidate message. A kind message you will like or don't like. The endorsement has nothing to do with your decision. So when you decide to support a candidate after a rallye, it is not because of the endorsmt but because of what you have heard or seen. Next week, we will see Oprah effect in the polls.

Posted by: christophefiero | December 11, 2007 7:40 PM

I agree with johnlumea. How could one possibly gauge the Oprah effect yet ? Let things breathe... I know the media needs a steady flow of stories, but this is ridiculous.
I am willing to bet that most people in Iowa and New Hampshire won't admit to pollsters that Oprah will affect their vote. Betcha it does.

Posted by: vbalfour | December 11, 2007 7:16 PM

This "analysis" is shoddy and shameful. The first of Obama's four Oprah events did not finish until late afternoon on the 8th. The last of the events did not finish until late evening on the 9th. There simply is no way that any poll conducted on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th can reflect the full impact of those events, much less to declare them a "burnout" -- especially given that the main point of the events was to build organization in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

Posted by: johnlumea | December 11, 2007 7:00 PM

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