Sunday, September 09, 2007

Oprah and Obama: What Will Be the Impact?

Late yesterday, Oprah Winfrey hosted a political fundraiser at her home in Santa Barbara home, raising some three million dollars for Barack Obama. Obama is the first political candidate to receive such public support from Ms. Winfrey despite her long history in the public eye.

Could Oprah's support of Obama significantly impact the Democratic Presidential Primary? It could, but the degree to which it will depends upon the degree to which Oprah is willing to tie her image to Obama's politics and the Democratic party.

Undoubtedly, Oprah has demonstrated the ability to influence American pop culture and buying patterns. With her book club and "Oprah's Favorite Things", she has demonstrated influence arguably unrivaled by any single television personality. For all the influence she wields though, she has to an obvious extent avoided publicly endorsing any political candidate, until Obama.

People are taking notice of her interest in Obama and that will serve him well. While hosting a three million dollar fundraiser at her Santa Barbara home brings big money and an intimate personal touch, both trademarks of Ms. Winfrey's business sense, it is likely not enough to sway a major voting block.

Could Oprah have the sort of impact required to change the outcome of a presidential primary? Yes, but it would come from involvement more akin to the type we saw with Michael J. Fox's very public endorsement of candidates supporting stem cell research in 2006. Oprah certainly has the skill, the funds, and the wherewithal to be significant influence in the Democratic Presidential Primary and the 2008 Presidential Election, but whether she will remains to be seen.

* A cross-post from Political Popsicle/Political Pollyanna.

No comments: