In the Public Eye: Who's Up (Al Gore) And Who's Down (Oprah Winfrey)

May 14, 2008

Long one of America's best-known and best-liked media figures, Oprah Winfrey saw her popularity slip after her endorsement of Barack Obama last year. A new survey shows that her image has not recovered, and opinions about the talk show host have become increasingly divided along partisan political lines.

Currently, 68% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of Winfrey, which is largely unchanged from a Gallup survey in October 2007 (66%). At that time, Gallup found that positive views of Winfrey had declined by eight points, from 74%, since January 2007.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted April 23-30 among 1,000 Americans, finds that Winfrey's image has continued to decline among Republicans. Currently, 59% of Republicans say they have a favorable opinion of Winfrey down from 64% last October, and 75% in January 2007. About a third of Republicans (32%) now view Winfrey unfavorably, up substantially since January 2007 (21%).

Nearly eight-in-ten Democrats (78%) now give Winfrey a favorable rating, which is up slightly from last fall and about the same percentage as last January (79%). Two-thirds of independents (67%) have a positive opinion of Winfrey, up a bit from October (62%), but still below the proportion in January (75%).

Women continue to have much more favorable opinions of Winfrey than do men. Currently, 79% of women say they have a positive view of Winfrey compared with 55% of men. Both men and women have somewhat less favorable opinions than they did in January 2007 (women 85% favorable, men 63% favorable).

About three-quarters (76%) of Americans ages 18-34 have a positive opinion of Winfrey, which is virtually unchanged from January 2007 (75%). By contrast, views of Winfrey have declined among those older than 35 (74% rated her positively in January 2007, only 64% do so today).

Winfrey's favorability also has declined among college graduates: two-thirds (66%) now view the talk show host favorably, down from 78% in January 2007. Opinions among people with less education have remained more stable.

Read the full report In the Public Eye: Who's Up (Al Gore) And Who's Down (Oprah Winfrey) on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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