It took no time at all for Oprah’s impassioned speech at the Golden Globes awards ceremony to turn her into a presidential contender. In fact, the country was more than ready for it. Ever since the 2016 presidential election, pundits opined that the line between politics and celebrity had collapsed and some Democrats have been openly searching for celebrity candidates.
But there’s a catch: most Americans disagree. According to a just-released Quinnipiac survey, only 14 percent of us think that electing a celebrity as president is a good idea, while 66 percent think it’s a bad idea.
Although 47 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Ms. Winfrey, only 24 percent of the electorate—and just 27 percent of women—would be inclined to support her for president.
Nor is experience in government a negative for prospective presidential candidates. The survey found that only 6 percent of Americans would be more likely to vote for someone without such experience, compared to 41 percent who say they would be less likely.
Some of this may result from the fact that Americans are having second thoughts about the celebrity who now occupies the Oval Office. Only 34 percent would vote today to reelect Donald Trump; 62 percent would not. Perhaps this is because 50 percent think he isn’t working as hard as most previous presidents. Or because 64 percent think he is doing more to divide than to unite the country. Or because 58 percent think that his recently reported comments about immigrants from certain (expletive deleted) countries are racist.
Americans often want their next president to be the antithesis of what they dislike the most about the incumbent. The modest, cardigan-clad, Jimmy Carter followed Richard Nixon’s imperial presidency. The charismatic former movie star Ronald Reagan followed the self-effacing Jimmy Carter. The down home, “man from Hope” (Arkansas) Bill Clinton followed the patrician George HW Bush. And the bombastic, shoot-from-the-hip Trump followed the cool and cerebral Barack Obama.
The American people seem to be indicating that, in 2020, there could be a strong market for candidates who are humble, soft-spoken, respectful of others and maybe a bit boring.