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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Colbert Boom

In case you missed it, the robo-pollsters at Rasmussen have released a survey showing that an independent presidential run by Stephen Colbert would net 13% support in a Clinton-Giuliani contest. Just as surprisingly, comparison of the three-way test with Rasmussen polls of the Big Two alone seems to indicate that Colbert pulls significantly more support from Rudy than from HRC. Less surprisingly, Rasmussen finds that the comedian does really, really well–around 30%–among voters under the age of 30.
There is one very obvious reason to dismiss these “findings”: Asking poll questions about an unserious candidate invites an unserious answer.
So why am I writing about it? Because when polls came out a few months ago showing Mike Bloomberg with similar levels of support in a three-way race, many thousands of words of serious analysis were spilled in print and online. But the truth is that polls offering any well-known “third choice” typically elicit significant support well in advance of elections–support that tends to evaporate as actual voting grows nigh. The alleged Bloomberg Boom wasn’t any more serious than today’s Colbert Boom.
Still, to suspend disbelief for a moment, it is fun to wonder why Colbert would cut into Rudy Giuliani’s base of support so disproportionately. Are there actually a lot of Colbert viewers who don’t understand that his Fox Bloviator shtick is a joke? Or is Rudy benefitting from a hitherto-undiscovered segment of the electorate that doesn’t understand he’s dead serious?

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