And it seems to be coinciding with her support for Obama.
Much hay was made nearly a year ago when Oprah Winfrey announced that she would support — and campaign for — Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Her effect in boosting support for Obama in early primary and caucus states like Iowa (which he won), New Hampshire (which he lost) and even South Carolina (which he won) is debatable.
Much less attention has been put on the effect the endorsement has had on Oprah’s own popularity. “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, launched in 1986, is currently the longest running daytime t.v.show. Within 10 years she was enjoying a 78% favorable rating in an American Political Culture Survey. At one point she was second only to Mother Teresa in a ‘most respected and admired’ poll.
I never understood her appeal, myself. But I’ve never been a daytime t.v. watcher.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, Oprah announced on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on May 1, 2007, that she would officially endorse her longtime friend Barack Obama for the presidency — the first time she had ever thrown her support behind a political candidate.
Almost instantly, Oprah’s popularity in America plummeted. An August 2007 CBS News poll showed only 61 percent of Americans were favorably disposed to her — a considerable drop of 13 percentage points from a similar survey conducted just seven months prior.
Then she decided to start stumping for him.
To woo voters in crucial primaries, Oprah made appearances in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire in early December 2007.
But by the time Fox News/Opinion Dynamics asked Americans about their attitudes toward Oprah in a survey conducted about 10 days later, Dec. 18-19, Oprah’s favorability ratings had dropped even further — to 55 percent — the lowest level of favorability ever registered for Oprah in opinion surveys. Oprah’s negatives also spiked, with one in three respondents (33 percent) reporting unfavorable impressions of her.
Also not helping Oprah is her increasingly open and embarrassing embracement of a flaky New Age type spirituality:
Apparently, after Oprah left the Trinity United Church of Christ, she began practicing another unorthodox brand of ‘Christianity’. She is now involved with the dissemination of a self study program of spiritual psychotherapy, described by some as a New Age Christianity. A quick check of Snopes confirms our worst fears: Oprah is knee deep in the New Age goo goo.
No doubt, this is causing her to bleed Christian viewers.
Back to The Politico:
The results of a March 26, 2008, 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, compared with 14 percent who preferred Oprah.
I find that shocking…and delightful.
UPDATE: (May 27):
Here’s another story about Oprah’s sliding popularity, from The Swamp:
Now come new TV ratings showing that her daytime audience, which is still the largest and was nearly 9 million at its height in 2004-05, has fallen for the third straight year, to 7.8 million a year ago and now to 7.3 million.
Her monthly publication, “O, The Oprah Magazine,” has also lost 10 percent of its circulation in the last three years, according to a New York Times story. And a new editor is being sought. Officials of billionaire Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions, profess no concern over the dip in numbers.
They say daytime audiences have generally declined and her audience is still about one-third larger than the No. 2 daytime program, Dr. Phil. Many Ticket commenters also said they had switched their viewing habits to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Figures also show that Winfrey has lost about 25 percent of her female audience between ages 25 and 54 in the last 36 months.
Hat tip: Lucianne