Economists at the University of Maryland announced last week that Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama was worth a million votes in the Democratic primaries. They arrived at that number, according to The New York Times, using a county-by-county analysis of subscriptions to Winfrey’s O magazine as well sales figures for titles she’s boosted in her book club. We asked EW’s own brilliant economist, Vanessa Juarez (she had the only calculator), to design rigorously scientific research techniques and then tabulate the vote value to Obama and Republican John McCain of a few other celebrity endorsements:
Her show, The Hills, grabs nearly 4 million viewers a week, but at least half of them are under 18 and can’t vote. The other half hate her guts.
Vote Value: 0 for either candidate
Eleven million potential voters paid $12 to see her this summer in Wanted, and 50 percent of those polled on boxofficemojo.com gave that film an “A.” That’s 5.5 million possible votes. But Jolie would have more impact endorsing McCain than Obama, especially after she told the press that her son Maddox likes to draw pictures of guns (isn’t the NRA looking for a new spokesperson?).
Vote Value: 50,000 for McCain
Chuck Norris didn’t do much for Mike Huckabee, but if this Hollywood conservative were to throw his weight behind the Democratic candidate, his Die Hard macho cred might convince a few hawkish undecideds.
Vote Value: 10,000 for Obama
66 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight—that’s what you call a big power base. Plus, the New Orleans chef has lots of fans among the half-million people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, some of whom probably landed in swing states like Florida and Ohio.
Vote Value: 5,000 for either candidate.
You know, her energy plan isn’t all that crazy, even if she did deliver it in a bathing suit and heels in a funnyordie.com video. Still, she’s an heiress, so who cares what she thinks?
Vote Value: 1 for Obama (Specifically, her mom, who asked the McCain campaign for her donation back after they dissed her daughter with that “celebrity” ad).