We live in a democratic society where each adult (except for some felons) gets one vote for president.
Except for Oprah. She gets one million votes.
A new study by Maryland economists Craig Garthwaite and Tim Moore argues that Oprah doesn’t just sell books, she influences votes too.
Using geographic variation in subscriptions to her magazine and the bump in book sales associated with her book club, Garthwaite and Moore estimate that Oprah’s endorsement of Barack Obama was worth one million votes to him in the primary election.
According to their numbers, Hillary Clinton would have gotten more votes than Obama if Oprah hadn’t endorsed him. I suspect that Oprah’s endorsement was especially influential because Hillary was a woman, but Oprah didn’t endorse her.
Perhaps Oprah should think of taking a more direct approach next time around: Winfrey for president in 2012?