Phyllis Smith Asinyanbi

Despite leaving her syndicated ABC show in 2011, 48 percent of surveyed Americans believe Oprah is the most influential celebrity for 2013, recognizing her notable attribute of "compassion," according to Forbes.

After her network's (Oprah Winfrey Network) shaky start, views are up with popular interviews featuring Cissy Houston (mother of the late Whitney Houston), Rihanna and Lance Armstrong.

Nielsen reports ratings at OWN are up by 17 percent this year. In part, this is due to the prime-time, two-part Armstrong interview where Oprah interrogated the cyclist who was banned because of drug use.

Forbes uses E-Poll Market Research which ranks more than 7,500 celebrities based on polling data from Americans. Ties are broken by factoring in likability and “awareness” metrics.

E-Poll Chief Executive, Gerry Philpott, makes it clear that “influential” does not necessarily mean "well-liked," but has more to do with the celebrity's influence on culture. For example, Donald Trump just missed the top ten with an influential rating of 35 percent, while his most notable attribute was “rudeness.”

Other celebrities rounding out the top ten are listed below:

# 2 - Steven Spielberg – Influential rating 47 percent; notable attribute: interesting.

# 3 - Martin Scorcese – Influential rating 42 percent; notable attribute: dynamic.

#4 - Ron Howard – Influential rating 41 percent: notable attribute: down to earth.

#5 - George Lucas – Influential rating 41 percent: notable attribute: trendsetter.

#6 - Dr. Mehmet Oz (an Oprah protégé) – Influential rating 40 percent; notable attribute: good energy.

#7 - Barbara Walters – Influential rating 37 percent; notable attribute: classy.

#8 - Bono – Influential rating 37 percent; notable attribute: activist.

#9 - Suze Orman – Influential rating 37 percent; notable attribute: good energy.

#10 - Clint Eastwood – Influential rating 36 percent; notable attribute: unique. (Apparently, his speech to the empty chair at last year's GOP convention brought Eastwood back in vogue.)

Polling information is always interesting but it's subjective. The same poll could be taken in another region of the country or with a different demographic group and the percentages might be 10 points, plus or minus. Supposedly, the idea is capture the likes of the average American, but as the country can see from the last political election, it's not easy to determine what's average any more.