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Is Obama to Blame for Oprah's Ratings Tumble?

Oprah and Obama

Oprah Winfrey joins Barack Obama at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on December 9, 2007. AP hide caption

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New ratings out for daytime television point to a downturn in viewership for The Oprah Winfrey Show, and a marked decline in the host's popularity. Her daytime audience, which was at a high of nearly 9 million back in 2004-2005, is now down to 7.3 million.

Some are drawing the conclusion that Winfrey's endorsement of Barack Obama for president is turning her Clinton-supporting female viewers away in droves. According to the L.A. Times:

"Before the primaries and caucuses, she was credited with helping to draw impressive crowds and thousands of new volunteers to Obama rallies in Iowa, which he won, in New Hampshire, which he lost, and in South Carolina, which he won.

An October Gallup Poll before the rallies but after her public endorsement of the Illinois freshman senator found her favorable ratings had fallen from 74% to 66% while her unfavorable ratings jumped by more than 50% from 17% to 26%."

While the numbers don't look great, the show's producers aren't drawing any parallels between declining ratings and Oprah's political affiliations.

"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.

Do you think Oprah's support of Obama is to blame for her ratings drop or are people simply losing interest in the talk show queen?



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My wife and I were talking about this. Think back to the time she did the show on the state of beef cattle. Remember her saying something to the effect of she will never eat meat again? Well, next came the "defamation" suit slapped on her by the ranchers. Then those shows in Oklahoma while she was in court. She won the case, naturally, but it did have a chilling effect on her show's subject matter, shying away from anything that smelled of political polarization.

What does this have to do with her support for Obama? Well, just like the beef cattle issue, when she took one side over another in a political arena, she turned off those who disagreed with her, and they voted with their remote control.

Mind you, I believe her show jumped the shark a long time ago. I don't like saying that, as a transplanted Chicagoan. Her support of Obama and her closing off her show from the other candidates hasn't brought the show back over. Frankly, she could do a lot more good just producing other people's shows, making her money work for her rather than the other way around, and setting up the charities for the causes she support. As a talk show, "Oprah" is done.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 7:42 PM | 5-27-2008

I believe her support for Barack Obama is part of it; However, the same would be true, my opinion, if she had supported Senator Clinton instead. It appears to me that there are more Hillary demographics in the audience than Senator Obama demographics. No I'm not sexist, or misogynistic just my observation. I don't watch the show but it's on when I'm in the gym and my attention gets drawn there from time to time. I believe her audience will come back or expand in other directions as long as she keeps it fresh.
Don't go the "springvera" route.

Sent by Eric | 11:53 PM | 5-27-2008

OPRAH has enjoyed the darling non-
attack happy zone of talk TV. Once
her Clinton audience saw her embracing of Senator OBAMA as the
political threat to their candidate,
Oprah entered their unfriendly zone.

Sent by jerry a. Myers | 1:59 AM | 5-28-2008

d if you do and d if you don't, Oprah is on her her wind down anyway so what if she supports OBAMA. Is there some rule out that says if you are a "white woman" you must through your support behind Clinton. Plus with the amount of Daytime Talkshow on Today she was bound to lose some market share.

Sent by yougottobekidding | 2:46 PM | 5-28-2008

It's surprising to me that no one has drawn a parallel between the decline in Oprah's popularity and her recent spate of new age proselytizing. I found the constant marketing of her customizable spiritual philosophy increasingly disturbing and finally stopped watching her because of it. I'll bet there is a sizable former fan base with the same perception. Oprah's spiritual campaign concurrent with her endorsement of Obama, taints him in my view -- not the other way around. Because of this alliance, I will not vote for him.

On a less mystical note, Oprah has billions of dollars to spend on every trainer, chef, spa, retreat, self-help program, guru, and doctor in the world -- the same ones she promotes endlessly to her audience. Yet, obviously, the mind body connection is not working for her. After all this time, she still can't manage her weight and she still disdains marriage. The empress has a wardrobe but no clothes!

Sent by Anne Ranck | 3:17 PM | 5-28-2008

I think the passage of time is eroding Oprah's popularity. Her day is done. Her daily programs are 75% trivia and 25% celebrity junk. Enough already!

Sent by Roslyn Talerman | 5:08 PM | 5-28-2008

Her support of Obama has EVERYTHING to do with it. Before her endorsement, she could do no wrong. After the endorsement and Obama's smackdown, the HRC supporters stopped worshipping at Oprah Alter. Oprah violated the sacred code and came out for a man (gasp!) over HRC. That's just downright blasphemy but weird if they would stop and think for one moment about what her husband did to her behind her back with other women as Governor of Arkansas AND Monica Lewinsky.

Oprah belongs to "them" and only "them". Now they are mad. Give it a week and they'll be mad about something else.

Sent by Thomas B | 6:39 PM | 5-28-2008

Daytime ratings are down overall. People just don't have the time to watch daytime teleision these days. They are either at work/looking for work, doing things involving with their children, or the countless other needs of the day that do not involve TV. It's not just Oprah's ratings that are down, but every daytime show's ratings are down. Sure, it's easy to blame her support of Barack Obama, but there's a bigger picture to this. There is very little interest in daytime television right now, period, due to stressed-out livelihoods, in general.

Sent by Lorna | 4:22 AM | 5-29-2008

Ophra is not near done. She has much to offer the world. She's a sweetheart and I and many other people love her. She'll be just fine. Remeber, those are your ratings, not hers. I didn't care for Obama the first time I heard him speak, he seemed to preaching and I don't like preaching. I grew up being preached at. I've always admired and respected Hillary and Bill Clinton and I think Chelsea is a beautiful person and I expect great things from her. They seem to be as close as me and my daughter-yes, we hold hands sometimes and it feels wonderful. I've thought all along how great it would be to have that family working in our favor. I would feel safe. I'm hoping she can pull this off- God knows she has had to fight tooth and nail through all the media crap (for lack of a better word) and she still looks "mauvalous". Hang in there Senator Clinton- maybe it will be a brighter day.

Sent by Priscilla Simmons | 5:30 AM | 5-29-2008

She needs to bring Obama back. Her ratings must have gone thru the roof when he was a guest and the weeks that follow. Sorry folks. Obama will be our next President, and Opra will continue entertaining and doing good deeds and our world will be that much better when Obama becomes our new President. You can bet on it!!!!!!!

Sent by Foreverfree | 6:46 PM | 5-30-2008

Is Obama to Blame for Oprah's Ratings Tumble?

Yes, look at the original O booster... Peggy Bundy from Married with Children. That's Hillary's demographic fer sure.

Sent by Al Bundy | 7:37 PM | 5-30-2008

she is a fanastic person who has done and does wonderful things----and i do not even watch her show but i respect her and her activity and how she well knows the issues and the american public

Sent by maddymayor | 6:21 AM | 5-31-2008

Wow, as former Oprah fan I have to comment on this. I see plenty of anecdotal evidence that the drop in ratings and support for Obama is coincidental. It might be temptiong to tie in the two by way of some sort of intellectual or news worthy causation, but I know many viewers like myself who support Obama that have gradually stopped watching the program within the last couple of years simply because we do not enjoy the show anymore. This has to do with the fact that the show has increasingly gotten away from everyday life/quality of life issues that affect women, our families and our lives, and into the area of celebrity and consumer worship. There is an aura of slick superficiality about both the show and Oprah that even this consumption driven viewer does not find appealing. Also, Oprah seems to have become bigger than life and that fact creeps into the way she interviews everyday people or even just in her conversations with the audience. There is nothing humble or down to earth about her with which I can relate. She is a generous giver and I'm sure a warm human being. However, the demeanor she presents onscreen lacks those qualities and it seems to be all about Oprah. She might get her groove back if she can strike a good balance between the old, self doubting Oprah and this new, I am Oprah, here me roar version.

Sent by Watching Sporatically | 4:04 PM | 5-31-2008

Well, I'm not impressed with any democratic presidential candidate, but what's that got to do with Ophra? So she likes Obama, so she probably has similar political views .. I don't like her less than we have some fundamental disagreements .. I think her appeal to people in general is not for her politics nor spirtuality, but because of who she is .. and while I'm seemingly tired of celebrity support for politicians .. it is something that has been part of the mix for some time now .. I can easily discern the difference for like of the person and their politics .. why can't you?

Sent by Michael Christensen | 9:10 PM | 5-31-2008

when you are oprah people judge you for eveything you do.and that includes who you think should be the nest presidentI love oprah more than I love myswlf,and I will never leave her.

Sent by kayla armstrong | 9:43 AM | 6-1-2008

I have always found Oprah way racial and over the top so when she brings on her darker friend have parties for her darker folks then to have brought on Barack Obama and play with him....was just discusting mostly to me. She pulled out of HIS church for she knew she would lose many money spending white folks. I think to have used her weight in HER world to bring a vote for him gameplay was all wrong and will show more as time will tell. She is heavy not happy and still cries over many issues for she has not a clear spiritual bases to judge herself and others. I found her taking her wishes for the NEXT BLACK PRESIDENT all too much from now on I respect her less. Do get your life together and get some self respect back in your life.

Sent by not dark enough | 4:37 PM | 6-1-2008

OOOH' Those who are critical of Ophra or Obama make me think you are all Hopeless JUnks, who have failed in your lives oneway or another, Chech your Backyard before you Junge, You got Nothing in yourlife but Criticise. Yoo. Nobodys, Get really, and Clean your Houses or Go to school and learn more. What you see in Obama is really. Dream-on Babe. Its Happenning, and Ophra is a Billion Girl,and What DO YOU HAVE? Get a Life.

Sent by violet | 7:40 PM | 6-1-2008

Getting political may have a little to do with her decline in ratings but it would have happened anyway. The days when a day time TV show can attract over 8 million American viewers are over, as there's too much competition from cable news, and increasingly the Internet, not to mention all the people who can't afford to stay home during the day. But despite the decline in the industry, her show remains number one and if anyone can afford to stand up for what she truly believes in, it's Oprah. I applaud her for putting the future of the country ahead of business interests.

Sent by Kate | 10:59 PM | 6-1-2008

I waited to respond to this article because I wanted to see how the Democratic presidential race would turn out. Sure enough, Barack Obama seems to be the Democratic candidate who will run for the presidency. Did Oprah's support help him? Hell yes!!! Should she be punished for that? Certainly not!!!

Oprah has the right to use her influence to assist the people she feels would benefit from her support. Was it any different when the Kennedy's backed Obama? How about when Jennifer Aniston, Robert DeNiro, or George Clooney announced their support - and did so in huge ways. I don't think people will stop watching the movies or TV shows they are casted in because they chose to openly support their candidate. And let's remember ... Hillary had her share of celebrity endorsements as well. You don't hear anyone knocking Jack Nicholson, Barbara Streisand, or Natalie Portman for their support of Clinton. Remember also that Ellen DeGeneres (who has her own show) also used her status to support Clinton. Sure - Ellen had both candidates on her show - but so what?!?! Her comment about Clinton's support of gay and lesbian rights while Clinton was on her show was a direct message to that population that Clinton's got your back - so back hers.

I still think there are alot of people out there fuming because African Americans are on the rise and using their influence to support each other - something other races have been doing for centuries. It makes me wonder if Obama will ever have an opportunity to be successful as our next president if he's elected.

Finally, I suggest Oprah retire the Oprah Winfrey Show. Quite frankly, I think she lost viewers and will continue to lose viewers because she's soooo out of touch with the average middle-class American family. She has done far more than what she expected she could with that show and created a larger than life empire with a legacy that will be long remembered and difficult to repeat. Let's hope she leaves the show with the dignity and respect she's worked so hard to earn.

Sent by Unita Friend | 1:13 PM | 6-3-2008

Oprah has the right to endorse whoever, how dare you think because you watch her show you have the right to make her decision for her, Its not about Oprah not endorsing a woman its about Oprah endorsing a black man, let not lie, tell the truth, did you think for one second that maybe she didn't like Hillary for many reasons, but that shouldn't matter right, her belief, passion or ideas is not important, of course not what really matters is what the audience want.thats why people have there own lives so they can control there lives not other people lives.

Sent by vernell benjamin | 8:15 PM | 6-4-2008

I don't think Oprah's endorsement of Obama has anything to do with the decline in ratings. In all walks of life you experience ups and downs, valleys and peaks, and this is one of those times for the Oprah Talk Show. Ms. Oprah is entitled to support whomever she wants just like all american citizens have the rights to, and she should not be "shun" or crucified for her choosing. If this is the case, then there is a much bigger issue here that you are selecting not to address.

Sent by deborah ensley | 9:04 PM | 6-4-2008

Watching Sporatically, I agree with you totally. I have stopped watching regularly too for the exact same reasons. The Oprah show has become too much about celebities and consumerism to be useful. Regular women want useful ideas and information about making their lives and that of their families better not see yet another pointless celebrity interview that add nothing positive to our existence. Oprah seems to be looking down on her ordinary, non celebrity guests more than ever. I do wish she had stayed out of public politics, it now makes her seem less balanced. Oprah and Obama seem like they have very similar personalities to me and that might be why she feels so comfortable supporting him.

Sent by pot noodles | 2:58 AM | 6-7-2008

I'm a fairly regular potential viewer of Oprah, being an early day-shift worker. But more commonly than not, I can't stand her program. Her efforts to show off her celebrity friends make me ill. Who gives a crap what Tom Cruise thinks about how he's been treated?
She also dedicates far too much time on her series-pitch for Dr. Oz, probably the most boring doctor I've ever seen.
I don't think Obama has anything to do with it. She's just making boring shows that focus far too much on celebrities and "medical freaks." Come on Oprah, do what you do best and relate to average people.
And to reiterate -- the second I see the show is about a celebrity, I turn it off.

Sent by John | 7:17 AM | 6-12-2008

I'll never watch her again after turning on Clinton and endorsing the idiot.

Sent by catho | 12:54 PM | 6-12-2008

yes, I think it has allot to do with backing Obama... Good bye from me forever!!!

Sent by cathy | 4:54 PM | 6-30-2008

Oprah, like our Congress, is far removed from average Americans. I've watched her for years and today's Oprah is not the original Oprah who was humble and grateful and lovable. She's changed. Look at her face. There's no light in it compare today's Ophra with the early Ophra....her eyes smiled.. Money has changed her. Power has changed her. I see her as racist and a bigot. She lost many viewers when she started pushing New Age religion and said God was jealous of her. She professes to be a Christian but does not know the scriptures ( Hebrew and New Testament ). Those who believe Christ is God incarnate, our Saviour, know that Jesus said I am THE WAY, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. And there is no other name under heaven whereby men may be saved.

Sent by bert | 11:41 AM | 7-1-2008

I think Oprah's declining rating is due to her new found movement called the New Age.
I am not God and doesn't know what really goes in her life Internally but, as a human being I can speculate that she is searching for true happiness that is one thing that she could not buy no matter how much money she has. True happiness can only be found in God. New Age Movement is not the way to find God.

Sent by Lili | 5:49 PM | 7-16-2008

I stopped watching Oprah when she endorsed Obama along with all the other celebrities who have endorsed him.

Sent by notvotingforobama | 3:29 PM | 8-20-2008

I totally agree with bert (07-01-08)!
Oprah has definately changed. It makes me sad b/c I love her and her show (well,used to love her show). I simply cannot watch her anymore...

Sent by Janet | 9:13 PM | 8-26-2008

I watched Oprah from the start, but a few years back I could sense something was not right with her and stopped watching her show at all. Now I know that what I sensed was this evil spell she fell under because of her idolizing the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise. What she didn't realize was that if you are not secure in your Christian belief, you are likely to fall for anything. That's what she did.....she never really believed in Jesus as her personal savior and now she is lost. The really sad thing is that she has so much influence on all these people that idolize her and are willing to follow her off the cliff.

Sent by Peggy | 4:14 PM | 8-28-2008

OPRAH ... from spending several years in Jeremiah Wright's anti-American racist church, listening to sermons like "God Damn America", and giving life time achievement awards to the likes of Louis Farrakhan ... to her newest opportunistic religious beliefs ... who could possibly take Oprah seriously? This woman's ego is soooo big, being a billionaire celebrity isn't enough, she has to start her own religion ... not to mention all the additional money she is going to make selling all those book, tapes, CD's, etc. to her poor followers. Oprah's new power hungry ambitions include efforts to replace traditional America with Obama ... and access to a President she puts into office ... to her efforts at replacing Christianity with a new religion she controls. I think it's time for America to deny Oprah access to our television sets.

Sent by Howard | 3:02 PM | 9-6-2008

Oprah is done.....I have watch her everyday for the last 7 years. No more. cannot take the bias show. She needs to retire

Sent by Michael Washington | 12:30 AM | 9-7-2008

I use to respect and watch Oprah but no longer do I respect her for pushing her New Age religion. She is leading many astray with her beliefs. She denies Christ as the "Only way to the Father" and denies he importance and reason for the "Cross". It is not of "works", Oprah, "lest any man should boast", but through Faith in Jesus Christ. Check out "Oprah denies Christ on You Tube". She has become proud and arrogant. She has rejected her Baptist upbringing and traded it for "man-made doctrines". She has her own agenda politically, racially and spiritually. I no longer trust her and will find other ways in which to donate my money to causes.

Sent by Mariana | 1:45 PM | 9-8-2008

Oprah who?

Sent by Mary | 12:10 AM | 9-9-2008

She is a total RACIST!listen to her own words on a tape where she laughs and makes jokes about"white folks" that work for HER.You can watch her non verbal language on so many shows where race is an issue.She has become a true bore as well as a racist.

Sent by Melanda Miller | 8:44 AM | 9-9-2008