Host Stephen Colbert likes to boast of the "Colbert bump"--a rise in campaign support after he has interviewed a politician. Political scientist James H. Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, agrees. He has published his research findings in the July issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, a journal of the American Political Science Association.
A fan of the show, Fowler notes that segments of "The Colbert Report" are devoted to politics, and for certain politicians, the impact is pronounced. Despite the satiric nature of "Colbert," Fowler contends that it exercises "disproportionate real-world influence," which he credits to the "elite demographic" of its audience.
To buttress his contention, Fowler used data from the Federal Election Commission on fund-raising by congressional Democrats and Republicans. He discovered that Democrats who appear on "The Colbert Report" gain a big boost in donations in the following 30 to 40 days versus candidates who don't appear. Specifically, Democrats who got "the Colbert bump" raised $8,247 more.
Conversely, Fowler found the "bump" did not work its magic for Republicans. They raised more funds in the month before coming on the Peabody-winning hit, and raised less money following their appearance.
The American Political Science Association was established in 1903 to study politics. The APSA has more than 14,000 members in 80 countries.