November 2, 2018
American icon Oprah Winfrey—whom a May 2018 Zogby Analytics poll found to be popular among 53% of likely voters; compared to President Donald Trump, who only would have garnered 47% of the vote in that matchup—campaigned for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams (D) on November 1.
If elected, in the tight battle against current Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), Abrams –a former state House Minority Leader—would become the nation’s first black female governor.
Declaring herself inspired to rally behind the “bold” and “bodacious” campaigning for Stacy Abrams, Oprah jumped into the 2018 midterm elections, saying she wanted to be part of the historic campaign, according to a same-day report by CBS News.
Although rumors flew about her own candidacy for higher office after she gave a rousing speech at the Golden Globe Awards last January, Winfrey this week reiterated, “I don’t want to run,” at a rally in Georgia. “I’m here today to support a change-maker.”
Aptly backed by Aretha Franklin’s “Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves,” Oprah boldly hit the hustings, and asked women in the state to rally behind a “Georgia warrior.”
Abrams “is someone who dared to believe she can change the state,” Winfrey said, according to the network news report. The entertainment mogul stressed that she is a registered Independent, not beholden to any political party, but was called to support Abrams because she stands for issues that she cares about. “She cares about Medicaid expansion, keeping families together, and environmental protection for our children so they’ll have clean water and won’t be wearing oxygen masks,” Winfrey said.
At a separate rally for Abrams’ Republican opponent in Georgia, Brian Kemp, Vice President Mike Pence alluded to the Winfrey event and suggested it wasn’t appropriate for the state’s voters.
“This ain’t Hollywood,” Pence said. “I’ve got a message for all of Abrams’s liberal Hollywood friends.” He continued, “This is Georgia, and Georgia wants a governor that is going to put Georgia values and Georgia first.”
The Georgia governor’s race has gained national attention because of extreme ideological differences between Abrams and Kemp as well as allegations of voter suppression. An NBC News/Marist College poll released on October 24 found that Abrams and Kemp are virtually tied in the Georgia gubernatorial race, with Kemp leading Abrams among likely voters—46% to to 45%. Libertarian Ted Metz garnered support from 4% of likely voters.
At the Abrams rally, Winfrey stressed that supporting the campaign was her idea. “Nobody even asked for me to come here,” she said. She planned to go door-to-door to campaign on a personal level for the candidate after they staged two rallies.
Research contact: @hrosenkrantz