How is Stephen Colbert doing in the polls?

The comedian has been included in some actual political polls in recent days, as he presses ahead with exploring whether to run for (wink wink) president of South Carolina. 

Bruce Smith/AP
Kelley Dailey, a College of Charleston student, holds a sign as fans line up to attend comedian Stephen Colbert's 'Rock Me Like a Herman Cain South Cain-olina Primary Rally' at the college in Charleston, S.C., on Friday. Colbert is appearing Friday with former presidential candidate Herman Cain at the College of Charleston. Colbert says a vote for Cain would be a strong message that people want Colbert on the ballot.

Stephen Colbert’s exploration of a possible run for the president of South Carolina really takes off Friday. He’s down in the Palmetto State for a rally at the College of Charleston, where he will appear in some manner with Herman Cain. In recent days, Mr. Colbert has been urging South Carolinians to vote for Mr. Cain as a proxy for himself, since it’s too late for him (Colbert) to get on the ballot.

“He is my main man, with a tax plan so fine they called it ‘9-9-9,' ” said Colbert during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday. “He’s the Mad Max of the flat tax.”

It’s been, what, a week now since Colbert launched this comedic stunt? So, it’s not too early to ask the obvious question: How’s he doing in the polls?

Just fine, thank you. Stephen Colbert is doing better than any other fictional character who is thinking about the race. (Yes, Harry Potter has a higher positive intensity score, but he’s British, and Britain's possible respondents were confunded.)

Seriously, though, if seriousness is possible here, Colbert has been included in some actual political surveys in recent days. A new nationwide Public Policy Polling poll finds he has a higher favorability rating than any actual GOP candidate.

PPP also asked voters about a notional three-way race between Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Colbert. In this scenario, Obama gets 41 percent, Romney 38 percent, and Colbert 13 percent.

Digging into the PPP results, the numbers seem to show that if Colbert decided on a third-party run (OK, we’re just going along with the jokiness here) he would hurt the incumbent more than the GOP nominee. The majority of his supporters are self-identified Democrats, and PPP has Mr. Obama in the lead on a straight-up race with Romney, 49 percent to 44 percent.

Colbert’s former "super PAC," now run by fellow comedian/evil mastermind Jon Stewart, has also commissioned an actual poll from an actual pollster, the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. In this survey, 18 percent of South Carolina voters say they would be at least “kinda’ somewhat likely” to vote for Colbert, if they could. Among voters who say they are aware of his whole exploratory committee thing, 22 percent say they might vote for him.

“There’s no doubt Stephen Colbert’s potential run for the presidency of the United States of South Carolina is being noticed,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a press release.

Meanwhile, not everyone sees Colbert’s meddling with the electoral process as funny and/or a good way to publicize the problems inherent in the current political finance system.

“He’s making a mockery of the system,” said Chuck Todd, NBC political analyst, at a university forum on Thursday.

“Yes, the process is a mess, but he’s doing it in a way that feels like he’s trying to influence it with his own agenda and that may be anti-Republican,” said Mr. Todd, according to an account of the incident on the Huffington Post.

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