Sunday, January 22, 2012

The 2012 Election Season: Colbert for President... of South Carolina

I have kept a distance watch on the whole GOP race for the 2012 election with mixed thoughts and dull curiosity, since none of the current candidates are truly worth rooting for - even though I'm all for Obama going on towards a second term in office. But, now that the GOP Primaries have begun, after a few hundred debates, I've started to gain some interest in who will win the Republican nomination, mostly due to the fact that Iowa was won by Rick Santorum, New Hampshire by Mitt Romney, and South Carolina by Newt Gingrich.

Here's the results so far from the GOP primaries:

Iowa Caucus Results (January 3, 2012)

Rick Santorum - 29,839 votes = 24.6%
Mitt Romney - 29,805 votes = 24.5%
Ron Paul - 26,036 votes = 21.4%
Newt Gingrich - 16,163 votes = 13.3%
Rick Perry - 12,557 votes = 10.3%
Michele Bachmann - 6,046 votes = 5%
Jon Huntsman - 739 votes  = 0.6%

New Hampshire Republican Primary (January 10, 2012)
Mitt Romney - 97,532 votes = 39.3%
Ron Paul - 56,848 votes = 22.9%
Jon Huntsman - 41,945 votes = 16.9%
Newt Gingrich - 23,411 votes = 9.4%
Rick Santorum - 23,362 votes = 9.4%
Rick Perry - 1,766 votes = 0.7%

South Carolina Republican Primary (January 21, 2012)
Newt Gingrich - 243,153 votes = 40.4%
Mitt Romney - 167,279 votes = 27.8%
Rick Santorum - 102,055 votes = 17%
Ron Paul - 77,993 votes = 13%Herman Cain - 6,324 votes - 1.1%
Rick Perry - 2,494 votes = 0.4%

- Results from

What has sparked my interest the most in the whole GOP primaries though, has been Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert and what he's been doing via his show, The Colbert Report. The whole joke behind Colbert is he play's a right-wing conservative talk show host, all the while, making fun of the Republicans. There are moments where I get bored with his show, but I soon realized how brilliant he is. Since the beginning of the GOP race, he has been making fun of the whole process. But, most importantly though, by mocking the whole process, Colbert has been able to show on his TV show, just how unethically legal it is for a potential presidential candidate to start up their own Political Action Committee (PAC) or even a Super PAC, and be able to receive donations from just about anybody, and with a Super PAC, be able to not publicly announce where that money is coming from, and be able to spend it any way the owner of a PAC wants to.

What Colbert was able to do, by showing on The Colbert Report, was just how easy it is to create a PAC, and by doing so, educate the general public and made them aware, more so than the reform community or via traditional media, of "just how dangerous and corrupt the current system of political campaign financing has become."(1) Both Federal Election Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub and Fred Wertheimer, who is the president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Democracy 21, are fans of what Colbert is doing. "I think Colbert has made a real contribution to educating a broader public about the dangers involved in our current campaign finance system," Wertheimer  said.(2) Another person to comment on Colbert's influence through his Super PAC, is Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, who says that, “he is taking on a serious subject that many Americans find deadly dull and is educating the broader public on why it matters and what is at stake."(2) 

I first started to realize Colbert's brilliant strategy right before the Ames Straw Poll. With the help of his newly formed PAC, Colbert put out ads in Iowa, telling voters to vote for Rick Perry, except, write-in Perry's name in with an A. The exact results of those write-in votes aren't at all known, but it would greatly be intriguing to see just how many people actually voted for Rick Parry. Stephen Colbert was at it again once the South Carolina Primary rolled around. This time, wanting to run for president himself. But, due to missing the deadline of getting his name on the ballot by a few months and no room for write-in candidates, Colbert instead decided on a very funny scheme - get people to vote for the now not running Herman Cain.

It's not at all surprising then, that due to Colbert's comical influence on the whole GOP primary, he's actually polling ahead of a few of the candidates. Before Jon Huntsman dropped out of the GOP race, according to a Public Policy Poll, Colbert was getting 5% from the voters, compared to Huntsman's 4%. Also, because the South Carolina Primary is open, Democrats are eligible to vote, and so, a recent poll found that, "34% of Democrats planning to vote in the Republican contest support him to 15% for Romney, 13% for Gingrich, and 10% for Santorum."(3)

I'm looking forward to writing more about this year's 2012 election, now that things have truly begun to heat up.

1.) Johannesen, Richard L.,Kathleen S. Valde & Karen E. Whedbee. Ethics in Human Communication. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. 2008. P, 26.

2.) Blumenthal, Paul & Dan Froomkin. Stephen Colbert's PAC Parody Explains Campaign Finance To America (Part 1). Huffington Post: (1/17/2012).

3.) Public Policy Polling. Colbert in South Carolina. January 10, 2012.

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