Do politicians raise more funds after appearing on "The Colbert Report" comedy show?
Washington, DC—Democratic politicians receive a 40% increase in contributions in the 30 days after appearing on the comedy cable show The Colbert Report. In contrast, their Republican counterparts essentially gain nothing. These findings appear to validate anecdotal evidence regarding the political impact of the program, such as the assertions by host Stephen Colbert that appearing on his program provides candidates with a "Colbert bump" or a rise in support for their election campaigns.
This analysis of one of America's most well-known pop icons of recent years is conducted by political scientist James H. Fowler (University of California, San Diego), who is also a self-identified fan of the show. The research appears in the July issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, a journal of the American Political Science Association. It is online at http://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/PSJuly08Fowler.pdf
While Fowler notes that Colbert often makes "outlandish" claims for laughs, he also observes that specific segments of the program are devoted to politicians and that politicians themselves have taken notice of the Colbert Report's impact. Moreover, even a cursory analysis demonstrates that despite being a comedy program The Colbert Report appears to exercise "disproportionate real world influence"—likely due to the "elite demographic" of its audience. To investigate the claim of the Colbert bump, the author uses data acquired from the Federal Election Commission on fundraising by Congressional Democrats and Republicans.