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The Colbert '08 stunt.

I was hoping that Stephen was going to withdraw from the campaign at the end of the episode last night, but it didn't take that long to get the tone of things and realizing it wasn't going to be over that easily. As it is, I only hope that he milks it for a few days and then announces that he's withdrawing because of some absurd scandal.

I make Pat Paulsen jokes even though I was about fourteen when he died and only saw him on TVLand, I've been reading Dave Barry since I was six, and I've got a Bartlet for President bumper sticker on the back of my car, so I do have a grasp of the whole joke campaign concept. The difference is, I doubt a serious number of people would actually vote for any of them (particularly the last one, since he's fictional). Stephen has fans who aren't kidding. I wouldn't be surprised if some people, kidding or not, wrote in Colbert/Stewart or Stewart/Colbert even if it had never been taken farther on the show than Stephen's playing coy about whether or not he was going to run- which was funnier than him announcing that I was running. But those would probably have been a dismissable number, probably from people who had no real preference but just showed up to vote on some other issue on the ballot.

(Does South Carolina have other issues on the ballot when primary elections are held? Ohio does, but we do both of our primaries on the same day.)

The more Stephen talks about this, the more likely people are actually to organize for it and come out to vote for him. Maybe he won't actually get enough votes to win a district (for the love of God, I hope that we aren't so far down the toilet as a nation that somebody running as a joke would take a district), but what worries me is that he'd play the Nader part if the people who vote for him would actually have voted for somebody else without this stunt. South Carolina is an early primary, too. Say that come January, Clinton is the frontrunner for the Democrats, with Obama and Edwards in some combination of second and third. Even if Clinton's lead is strong enough that people voting for a joke doesn't hurt her, it could weaken Obama or Edwards, and consequently have repercussions for the rest of their campaigns, possibly affecting the primaries that follow.

To make matters worse, according to tonight's episode of Countdown, people from the Report have contacted both parties about ballot procedures. I'm still hoping that this is going to be a Dave Barry "campaign." I find the increase in write-in votes from a completely fake campaign disturbing enough; how many more people would vote for him if he were actually on the ballot, and how many more of those would be people who would have supported somebody else otherwise?

I'm praying that he needs this information because he's planning on "failing" to meet some requirement to get on the ballots, and then doing a bit about the unfair expectations- maybe pretending to miss the deadline?- until the primaries.

If he's seriously going to put himself on the ballot, then that's way past the Andy Kaufman-wrestling-women point of not funny. Doing a bit that just makes people think you're a jerk is nothing next to doing a bit that could actually screw over the race before Super Tuesday.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 18th, 2007 02:20 am (UTC)
Yes, I was pretty sure that Keith cited the NY Times as the source for that, but the transcript won't be up until tomorrow and I didn't want to risk remembering it wrong.

He said off camera that they were filing papers? *head desk*

I... don't know how much longer I can watch this if that's true. Filing papers = definitely inconsistant with getting out before too much damage is done.
Oct. 18th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)
According to the NY Times, his staff called both parties in SC and asked about having him put on the ballot for real. Unless Viacom or his publisher's PR department is willing to cough up $35,000 to have him put on the Republican ballot (possible, but unlikely) he will ONLY be on the Democratic ballot if they do go through with this.

The same thing was reported by an audience member from Tuesday on TWoP.

The rest of the show was pretty much as you saw, though after he did the president/balloon drop, segment, he asked the audience, “how many of you thought that was real? How many of you though it was fake?” He looked around and it was about evenly divided, which he said was interesting. Then he said, “because we’re really doing this. We’re filing papers tomorrow.” He was grinning and obviously loved the whole idea.

Oct. 18th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
I never thought I'd say this, but "Stephen Colbert" is getting a little annoying. OK, you have gotten all the attention an 11th child could ever want. I get it. I even cringed when he said told Larry King that he'd do this show forever if he could. Although, knowing he is as smart as he is, I'm hoping this stunt will turn into a joke so remarkably clever, I will be eating my own words later.
Oct. 18th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
Okay. I'm fairly certain that Stephen won't serve as a spoiler candidate like Nader did. Why? Because his fanbase would not otherwise support one specific candidate. It's not as though all the votes that go to Colbert would have gone to Clinton. I'm pretty sure they'd be as evenly spread out as those from any sample of the population.

Also, even if Stephen wins a delegate or two from South Carolina, that's clearly not going to make a difference amongst the thousands at the national conventions.
Oct. 18th, 2007 03:32 am (UTC)
This is true. He will in no way tip the election. I remember when I was an undergrad, a political science instructor told us he'd give us an automatic A in the course if one of us became a delegate, LOL.
Oct. 18th, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)
I know winning a delegate or two wouldn't make a difference; I was just acknowledging that it would be a sad state of affiars if that would actually happen.

He doesn't have to win anything, or even change the winner: changing how good the standings of any particular candidates are would be enough. It is true that there probably wouldn't be one Democratic candidate who would suffer more than the others, since we are talking about a primary and not the general election. But since I seriously doubt there is going to be an exit poll on voters' second choices, there'd really be no way to find out. There's no way it wouldn't be a more accurate reflection of who the voting population supported out of the real candidates if everybody just voted for real candidates. Furthermore, any distortion would be more significant in the Democratic primary than in the Republican. Honestly, which party has more Colbert fans, and chances are that even though he's "running" on both ballots, people are going to go to the primary they'd normally go to. If I could get over any possibility that the primaries would be affected, it still wouldn't sit right with me that one would be affected more than the other.

I'm just hoping that the filling out the paperwork with the fake names and the bits with the fees mean that this is almost over.
Oct. 18th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
Okay, I guess we disagree for a reason considerably more fundamental than Colbert-running-good-or-bad. Because I already think politics are in a pretty damn sad state. And I guess I care less about potentially screwing up the elections because to me the candidates - especially the top tier ones - all seem like the same thing, politics as usual, rhetoric and that's about it - and, I mean, with pretty similar policies in mind, too.

And I guess what I'd be hoping for was that seeing people choose Colbert - this normal, honest person underneath a ridiculous character - would make other candidates reevaluate what they were doing, and how, and why.
Oct. 18th, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
He's going to run with this as far as he can. There's too much potential for humor at all levels of the electoral process.

But it is very easy for him to pull out at any time because he doesn't actually have anything at stake. He has no political future at risk, he doesn't actually want to win anything, he isn't even easy to embarrass.

If things actually get out of control, all he has to do is leak some in-character scandal and ease his way out.
Oct. 18th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
I thought the same thing until my friend told me that: 1) He's only running in S.C. and 2)it's the one primary. So unless they're planning on waging actual campaigns w/ very expensive advertising in the midwest and south this thing will have a limited life indeed.

He can name a bridge in Hungary, but that's probably not enough to win over a sizable number of the electorate to become a serious candidate for president.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )