James Forsyth

Celebrity politics

Celebrity politics
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I’m normally fairly sceptical about the value of celebrity endorsements. I can’t imagine that if, say, Frank Lampard urged people to vote Tory at the next election it would make much of a difference. But the exception to this rule is Oprah Winfrey, the American chat show host who is going out to stump for Barack Obama this weekend. She’s already filled an 80,000 seat football stadium in South Carolina for the campaign and she’s enabling Obama to reach voters he otherwise wouldn’t. 

To get a handle on just how much Oprah matters to her fans and how much influence she could have on the race consider these two statistics: 

“A November poll by the religious issues Website Beliefnet found 33% of respondents said Winfrey has had "a more profound impact" on their spiritual lives than their own clergymen.”

“In a recent Pew Research Center poll, 15 percent of respondents said they were more likely to vote for a candidate if endorsed by Winfrey

With Obama leading in Iowa and the race in New Hampshire tightening, we might be about to see a much closer race on the Democratic side than anyone expected a month or so ago. Obama is getting an injection of O-mentum at just the right time.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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