The Donald, however, should take heart from other figures' results in the poll. While 23 percent take Trump seriously as a potential politician, only 13 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of possible presidential candidate Warren "Bulworth" Beatty, while sometimes-touted political aspirants Oprah Winfrey and Cybill Shepard garner just 16 percent and 6 percent, respectively. As Bill Bradley and, earlier, Ronald Reagan have proved, you first have to make voters think of you as a politician before they'll take an actor or a sportsman seriously as a potential tenant of the White House.
On the face of it, the '90s have been the decade of politically inexperienced celebrities waltzing into public office. Clint Eastwood made his day when he was voted mayor of Carmel, Calif.; Sonny Bono rose from washed-up singer to Palm Springs mayor to congressman; and Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota with little more on his C.V. than the WWF Intercontinental wrestling championship and a few Schwarzenegger-movie cameos. Mere fame, however, appears to be an inadequate campaign asset for those aspiring to the presidency, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. For instance, in September, Donald Trump, who was then only rumored to be mulling a Reform party presidential run, was viewed unfavorably by 47 percent of Americans. This month, Trump — perhaps the most credible of the crop of celebrity political newcomers due to his decades of business leadership — saw his unfavorable ratings climb to 58 percent immediately after he announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. Reform party members polled were over 50 percent more likely to choose controversial conservative Pat Buchanan over the coiffed casino king.