The number have been crunched, and this isn’t just truthiness: According to a new survey by Public Policy Polling, Stephen Colbert is the top choice to replace outgoing senator Jim DeMint in South Carolina.
According to the pollsters, one in five South Carolinians support the faux-conservative TV host to take the two-term senator’s spot. Colbert has publically announced his interest in the seat, asking viewers of his Comedy Central show to tweet at S.C. Governor Nikki Haley, who is in charge of appointing a replacement. DeMint announced last week he’s giving up his Senate seat in order to head the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank.
The Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling group asked registered South Carolina voters to pick their choice for a DeMint replacement. Colbert was selected by 20% of those polled, taking the top spot in the poll. With that, he edged out freshman Congressman Tim Scott by five points. Scott earned 15% of the total, his Congressional colleague Trey Gowdy earned 14%, and Jenny Sanford, ex-wife of disgraced former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, took the only other double-digit ranking, with 11%.
All candidates aside from Colbert are registered Republicans, as is Haley. Colbert, while he plays a right-wing blowhard on television, has said in interviews that he’s a Democrat. But the South Carolina populace has called it for him: PPP explains that it’s “Democrats and Independents — those voters Haley most needs to improve her standing with — who are pining for a Colbert appointment.” Indeed 32% of registered Democrats polled are hoping for a Senator Colbert.
However, Haley has found a problem with Colbert’s eligibility – and it has nothing to do with residency. After all, the 48-year-old Colbert and his ten older siblings were raised in Charleston. Instead, in a Facebook post, Haley took issue with the fact that when the two met on an episode of the Colbert Report earlier this April, Colbert didn’t know that his home state’s official drink was milk. “Big, big mistake,” she wrote, with Colbert’s signature sarcasm.
Haley has remained silent so far as to her choice, aside from making it clear that she wouldn’t appoint herself and intends to choose someone with staying power. She plans to appoint someone who would run for reelection in 2014, and the name circulated the most in news reports is Scott’s.
Sure, it’s unrealistic to expect Haley to choose a TV comedian, so why even include Colbert in the poll? For one thing, he’s certainly thrown his hat in the ring: Colbert has mentioned the issue numerous times on his show (and early in this year’s presidential race campaigned heavily to become President of the United States of South Carolina). For another, Public Policy Polling is known for collecting serious data on outlandish subjects. After Mitt Romney’s February stump speech in Michigan proclaiming his love of his his home state because “the trees are the right height,” the PPP pollsters decided to verify the claim. That poll was largely inconclusive, with 55% saying they were “not sure” whether the trees in Michigan were of adequate size.