The “Colbert Bump”

American Political Science Association has discovered that Democratic politicians that go on the Colbert Report get a spike in donations following their appearance. This effect is called the “Colbert Bump.”

His analysis finds that Democrats who appear on The Colbert Report enjoy a significant increase in the number and total amount of donations they receive over the next 30–40 days when compared to similar candidates who do not appear on the show. Specifically, Democrats who come on the program raise $8,247 more than colleagues who don’t do so on the 32nd day following their appearance—“a bump of roughly two-fifths over the normal rate of receipts.” Republicans do not appear to benefit at all from appearing on the program; notably, they raise more funds in the month before coming on the program while actually raising less money in the month following their appearance—hinting at a possible “Colbert bust” for the GOP instead.

While conceding that it is “important not to read too much into these results” Fowler does also state that “one might be tempted to dismiss the importance of the Colbert bump because it is just money.” Clearly, political fundraising is done for a purpose and the most important consequence of any bump is whether Colbert candidates win elections. With only the 2006 elections having been completed since The Colbert Report came on the air, the upcoming 2008 elections will likely provide greater insight into this interesting and humorous wrinkle in modern American politics.