The Colbert Bump

THE COLBERT BUMP....Is it really true that congressional candidates who appear on Stephen Colbert's show do better than candidates who don't? Or is it merely truthy? Henry Farrell summarizes the surprising researchy answer from actual political scientist James Fowler:
Democratic candidates who appear on the Report receive a statistically significant "Colbert bump" in campaign donations, raising 44% more money in a 30-day period after appearing on the show. However, there is no evidence of a similar boost for Republicans. These results constitute the first scientific evidence of Stephen Colbert's influence on political campaigns.
Indeed. Fowler explains his methodology here:
To evaluate absolute differences between Colbert candidates and others I use a Wilcoxon signed rank test. This test is non-parametric, which is a super-cool term that means I don't assume that a histogram of the data produces a nice, "normal" bell shape. In fact, I know the data doesn't look that way — it looks more like a skateboard ramp, starting high near zero and curving down sharply to become flat. For percentage differences, I use a related non-parametric (so cool) test called the Mann Whitney U. I'm sure Stephen will be pleased that there is a "man" in his statistical test (though what kind of a man calls himself 'Whitney'?).
And of course there are graphs. What kind of scientificy research would it be if it didn't have graphs?



  • CBSNews

Comments