Americans love Oprah Winfrey. But they aren’t exactly clamoring for the media mogul and former talk-show host to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
A majority of voters across several polls don’t think Winfrey should run for the White House, according to polls conducted since Winfrey’s much-heralded speech at a Hollywood awards show launched a round of presidential speculation. Even among Democratic voters, more say she shouldn’t run for president than should.
Still, there’s enough evidence to continue fueling speculation about her political prospects. Winfrey performs well on polling ballot tests, tying or leading Trump in a number of surveys. The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows Democratic voters prefer her to a host of other potential candidates — except former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
And despite the persistent disapproval of Trump’s job performance thus far, voters are still open to political neophytes as presidential candidates — though Democratic voters are more likely to say they want candidates with experience in elected office.
The topline result from the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll: Winfrey would lead Trump by 2 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup, 40 percent to 38 percent. More than one-in-five voters, 22 percent, are undecided.
Among Democrats, Winfrey would lead Trump, 73 percent to 9 percent. Trump has a similar advantage among Republicans, 76 percent to 11 percent. Independents tilt slightly toward Winfrey, 35 percent to 30 percent, with another 35 percent undecided.
That’s similar to the result of an automated survey, conducted last week for a progressive organization, which also had the two media stars running neck-and-neck in a 2020 matchup.
Winfrey’s lead was larger in a Marist College poll last week, conducted for NPR and the PBS Newshour. In that survey, Winfrey led Trump among registered voters by 11 points, 50 percent to 39 percent.
Perhaps more interesting in the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll: Democratic voters actually prefer Winfrey to some of the party’s potential 2020 candidates. Winfrey would lead Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a head-to-head primary matchup, 39 percent to 35 percent. And she has a big lead over Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), 44 percent to 23 percent.
But Winfrey trails both Biden, 54 percent to 31 percent, and Sanders, 46 percent to 37 percent — two of Democrats’ best-known possible candidates.
Overall, most voters like Winfrey personally. A 54 percent majority of voters have a favorable opinion of Winfrey, including more than three-quarters of Democrats.
"Oprah's strong standing among Democrats does not translate to a clear interest in her launching a presidential campaign," said Kyle Dropp, the co-founder and chief research officer of Morning Consult. "While 77 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Oprah, only 38 percent say she should run in 2020."
Trump’s approval rating in the poll ticked up 1 point over the past week, to 45 percent. Half of voters disapprove of his job performance; that 50 percent disapproval rating is Trump’s best score since mid-November, though down only a point from last week.
Despite Trump’s persistently negative ratings, voters aren’t clamoring for experienced politicians to take over. Only a third, 33 percent, say they wouldn’t consider voting for a candidate without political experience in 2020, and only 41 percent of Democratic voters say they wouldn’t consider an outsider candidate.
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted January 11-16, surveying 1,993 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.