I’ve been warning y’all not to sleep on Oprah. I’ve said for a long time now that Oprah’s endorsement of Obama would have significant impact. As the beef and publishing industries have learned long before, you just cannot underestimate the power of Ms. Winfrey. Her public influence goes beyond celebrity endorsement to something closer to force of nature. And McCain should worry. Once Obama unleashes the ultimate weapon once more — The Oprah Effect — watch out. But now you don’t have to take my word for it anymore. Someone has actually run the numbers. Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight:

Perhaps the most interesting work I’ve seen in this election is this study (PDF) by University of Maryland economists Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore, who studied subscriptions to O! (Oprah’s Magazine) and purchasing patterns in books recommended by Oprah’s Book Club to conclude that Oprah Winfrey had a major — and possibly even decisive — impact on the Democratic primaries, netting Barack Obama more than one million votes.

I took a look at the study out of sheer curiousity. Two things stood out. First, O Magazine readers, except for skewing slightly better educated than the U.S. population, closely parallel the demographics of women in this country straight down the line in terms of marital status, kids, age, income, etc. So I would expect a return visit to this audience to study their attitudes.

Second, in a cage match of endorsements, Oprah will roundhouse kick Chuck Norris every time although it’s clear that Norris’ endorsement of Huckabee was probably a big deal for that campaign. Page 46 showing Oprah vs Chuck from the study is below. Click to expand.
Oprah Effect vs Chuck Norris

It also makes you wonder: what if major black sports figures endorsed Obama? How much impact could this have on men in similar fashion to the Oprah Effect?

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