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Oprah's Obama Endorsement a Wash, Say Voters

Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Examines Effects of Celebrity Endorsements 9/20/2007 09:59:00 AM Eastern

The endorsement of stars like Oprah Winfrey, Jon Stewart or even Tiger Woods would not translate to any more votes and -- somewhat curiously in the case of Stewart, Woods and several others -- could actually hurt their chances.

That's according to a telephone survey of more than 1,000 people by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Respondents said Oprah's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) -- she has stumped and raised funds for him -- will have essentially no effect on getting their vote, but they still think it could help his run for the White House.

According to the survey, 15% said Oprah's endorsement would make them more likely to vote for Obama, while the same 15% said it would make them less likely and 69% said it would make no difference. That is down from a 2000 poll that found that 14% said her endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a candidate and 11% less likely.

But 60% still said they thought Oprah's support would help his overall candidacy, while only 3% said it would hurt, although how that squares with the vote results is not clear.

There was a clear split along party with an Oprah endorsement, however, with 23% of Democrats saying her endorsement of a candidate (not necessarily Obama) would make them more likely to vote for that candidate, while only 13% said it would make them less likely. It was reversed for Republicans, with 10% saying it would help and 22% hurt.

But Oprah's was actually the best result for star endorsers.

Asked whether the endorsement of Jay Leno would help or hurt, only 6% said it would make them more likely to vote for them, while 16% said it would make them less likely, with the rest saying it made no difference.

Bill O'Reilly's support would make 11% more likely but 21% less likely; Woods 6% more likely but 13% less likely; and Stewart 10% more likely but 15% less likely.

The highest negatives among the TV stars (which Woods definitely is if you check NBC's golf ratings last week) was Donald Trump, with 5% saying it would help and 20% saying it would hurt.

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