The Fragility of Racial Transcendence: An Analysis of Oprah Winfrey’s Endorsement of the Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign

Harwood K. McClerking, Chryl N. Laird, Ray Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

We define racial transcendence as an elevated status in which evaluations of an individual are no longer shaped by the race of the attitudinal target or the race of the person making the evaluations. Observers argue that Oprah Winfrey transcends race, meaning that she is just as likely to receive support from non-Blacks as she is from fellow Blacks. But this argument may not follow when Oprah moves into the political arena. We use two surveys to demonstrate this: The first survey supports Winfrey’s transcendence, while we see in-group support in the second. We find that Oprah enjoys her greatest support among racial fellows, and her favorability flows along the lines of race and gender: Her greatest supporters are Black women. Oprah’s ability to offer political cues also flows along lines of race and gender: Those most likely to be influenced by her Obama endorsement are Black women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-328
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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