When it comes to Hollywood-style candidates for president, Americans like the strong, silent type. Specifically, they prefer Clint Eastwood.
But if they can’t have Eastwood, then Oprah Winfrey comes in a close second, according to a just-released FOX News Poll.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from Jan. 30 to Jan. 31. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
The poll was taken as part of a FOX News special, “Reel Politics: If Hollywood Ran America.” The hourlong program will air Saturday at 4 p.m. ET and Sunday at 4 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight ET. FOX News Entertainment Correspondent Bill McCuddy hosts the special.
From a list of six celebrities, the poll asked Americans which one they would like to see —hypothetically — in the White House. In addition to Eastwood and Winfrey, the list included Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Mel Gibson and Angelina Jolie.
“We nominated celebrities who have in one way or another entered the political fray or who are talked about as potential political leaders,” McCuddy said. “We tried to pick celebrities who have public personas that span the political spectrum.”
Eastwood, famous for playing tough guys on the screen, served as mayor of Carmel, Calif., from 1986 to 1988. (He also got into the White House in the 1993 thriller "In the Line of Fire," where he played a down-at-the-heels Secret Service agent guarding the president against an assassin played by John Malkovich.)
Eastwood led with 32 percent of the vote, narrowly edging out Winfrey — the Chicago-based Queen of Talk, and an often-talked-about possible political candidate — who came in second with 30 percent.
The next closest was Gibson with 9 percent. Jolie, who has served as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, received the support of 4 percent of Americans.
Penn, who traveled to Iraq prior to the war and who has publicly criticized President Bush for the war effort, got 3 percent. Streisand, a vocal supporter of many Democratic candidates and liberal causes, trailed the poll at 2 percent.
Democrats are more likely to say they would support Winfrey (40 percent) than Eastwood (25 percent). Among Republicans, Eastwood (40 percent) is the clear favorite, followed by Gibson (18 percent) and Winfrey (17 percent). Independents are evenly split between Eastwood and Winfrey (32 percent each).
Overall, 16 percent were unable to support any of the celebrities and responded “none of the above.”
The FOX News special looks at positions taken and statements made by entertainment stars about the big political issues of the day. These include the war, the environment, the economy, education, health care and the criminal justice system. In some cases, FOX found, many of the celebrities didn’t practice what they preach.
“Hypocrisy is now America's favorite sport. And celebrities are its greatest athletes,” says Andrew Breitbart, co-author of the best-selling “Hollywood Interrupted,” about the myths and reality of Tinseltown celebrities.
“You know McCain said that Hollywood is Washington for idiots, basically,” actor Robin Williams tells McCuddy in the special.
McCuddy also traveled across the country to talk with Americans about what they thought about Hollywood and politics. The hour includes a series of revealing man-on-the street interviews in Los Angeles, Chicago, Jacksonville, New York and Washington, D.C.
For the special, the FOX News Poll also asked Americans a series of questions about their views on Hollywood and politics.
When asked who has better ideas for solving America’s problems, over half (52 percent) said Washington politicians — more than five times as many as said Hollywood celebrities (9 percent). Twenty-eight percent said neither.
While 27 percent of the public thinks most Hollywood movies are politically neutral, the largest portion — 42 percent — believes most movies project a liberal viewpoint. Just 5 percent said most Hollywood films lean conservative.
More than twice as many Republicans (71 percent) as Democrats (26 percent) say they think most Hollywood movies have a liberal slant. A 37 percent plurality of Democrats says most films are politically neutral — nearly triple the number of Republicans who think so (13 percent).
The poll also asked, “Which would you prefer — Al Gore making movies or Barbra Streisand making policy?”
A 54 percent majority says they would prefer Gore making movies, far outdistancing the 15 percent that like the idea of Streisand making policy.
The former vice president’s global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” earned two Oscar nominations this year.
“Reel Politics: If Hollywood Ran America” is presented as an Oscar-type awards show. Instead of handing out gold statuettes, however, McCuddy is giving the winning Hollywood celebrities positions in a hypothetical U.S. government.
“We figured an awards show was a format the stars would understand,” says McCuddy. “The only difference is there will be no acceptance speeches, so we’ll finish on time.”