PS: Political Science & Politics

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The Colbert Bump in Campaign Donations: More Truthful than Truthy

James H. Fowlera1

a1 University of California, San Diego

Stephen Colbert hosts a comedy television program called The Colbert Report (the t at the end is silent—both of them!) in which he parodies personality-based news shows like The O'Reilly Factor that have become popular during the last 10 years. In an effort to make fun of these (usually conservative) personalities who engage in non-stop self-promotion, Colbert frequently trades outlandish claims for laughs. Among these is the claim that anyone who comes on the Report receives the “Colbert bump,” immediately vaulting the guest to stardom, fame, and fortune. Like Midas turning everything he touches to gold, Stephen Colbert can turn losers into winners, just by interviewing them on his show (but, ahem, he would never actually interview a loser now would he?).

James H. Fowler is associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He has published over 30 articles in Nature, Science, PNAS, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Politics, American Political Science Review, American Journal of Sociology, Political Analysis, Social Networks, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Political Behavior, PS: Political Science & Politics, Twin Research and Human Genetics, Political Science Quarterly, American Journal of Political Science, Scientometrics, and Physica A. He gets all of his news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

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