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Stewart trounces Colbert in head-to-head matchup

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert may be tapping into the politics of fear, but in a hypothetical 2012 presidential matchup, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart outpaces his protégé Colbert by a wide margin among registered voters, 42 percent to 22 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

With one in three still up for grabs (mainly undecided), both Comedy Central funnymen may have a great chance to pick up support at their dueling rallies on the National Mall. Stewart plans a "Rally to Restore Sanity," while Colbert is countering with a "March to Keep Fear Alive."

As in most matters, partisanship shapes views on the subject: Stewart holds a commanding 53 percent to 19 percent lead among Democrats, and he bests Colbert 40 percent to 21 percent among independents. Colbert runs about evenly with his former boss among Republicans, despite his grilling of former president George W. Bush at the White House Correspondents' Dinner four years ago.

Despite strong anti-incumbent sentiment across the electorate, Stewart, who became host of "The Daily Show" in 1999, bests Colbert among all age groups, across those with college degrees and without and among both whites and African Americans. Stewart holds double-digit leads in all four main regions, including Colbert's native South, where the split is Stewart 38, Colbert 23.

Seniors -- who are largely unfamiliar with the two talk-show hosts -- represent a potentially deep pool of voters for both sides. They break 28 percent to 13 percent in favor of Stewart, but two in 10 hold no opinion and one in three say they support neither candidate. Adults under 30 overwhelmingly go for Stewart, 63 percent to 24 percent.

Stewart's base also includes liberal Democrats (65 percent for Stewart to 16 for Colbert), those living on the East Coast (51 to 18 percent), and those who say the country is headed in the right direction (53 to 23 percent).

The four in 10 voters who support the tea party divide evenly, 32 percent for Stewart, 29 percent for Colbert. Voters who oppose the tea party break 3 to 1 for Stewart.

Colbert, who left "The Daily Show" in 2005 to host his own, eponymous show, holds a narrow 26 to 21 percent lead among conservative Republicans who voted for McCain in 2008 and who say they'll vote for a Republican candidate in their district in 2010.

Despite being the new kid on the block, this would not be Colbert's first experience with presidential politics: The talk-show host turned candidate announced a presidential bid in the fall of 2007 and campaigned as a native son of South Carolina, ultimately dropping his bid after the state's Democratic Party denied him a place on the primary ballot.

By Kyle Dropp  | October 30, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Polls, Post Polls, Tea party  | Tags:  comedy central  
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Of course Jon Stewart is more popular. He directly confronts his target. This approach is more satisfying to our anger.

It takes a little more sophistication, and background, to understand the irony in Stephen Colbert. And maybe it is lost entirely on many people, who take his apparently serious approach (and very good acting) to confrontation, well--seriously. Some people even confuse his lampoons with the real thing. That would explain the numbers of conservatives who favor him over Stewart.

Posted by: paultaylor1 | October 30, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Conservatives watching Colbert for support? Ha-ha. They are tools.

Posted by: allie7 | October 30, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I record and watch both shows with near-religious fervor. But I have to agree with PaulTaylor that Stewart's is far more satisfying for its relative lack of pretense. Colbert's such a good actor that his right-wing bloviation is often hard to bear.

Yet, as Allie points out, conservatives who think he's one of them are tools -- hammer heads would be my guess.

Posted by: leftcoastblue | October 30, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I are technically "seniors." As folks who watched Laugh-In and the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (featuring the iconic Pat Paulsen), we appreciate Stewart's incisive questioning of his political guests.

We tape the two shows every night and watch them the next day. The only time we "fast-foward" through Stewart is when he has a celebrity guest -- Jon becomes a character that is not appealing. We only fast-forward through Colbert when he becomes assinine, which occurs at least twice per week.

We find their political commentary spot-on. They are more "fair and balanced" than networks that claim they are so.

Posted by: retiree11 | October 30, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I like Stewart. But I worship Colbert. His satire is beyond brilliant.

Posted by: solsticebelle | October 30, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Big Deal! Colbert is a clown, and Stewart is a punk. Neither is worth interrupting reorganizing ones sock drawer to watch.

Posted by: cavedave | October 30, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Colbert is nothing short of genius, but Stewart gets a bump for dressing down the president.

Of course, calling Obama 'dude' was stretching it a bit.

Posted by: postfan1 | October 30, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Normally The Washington Post provides the polling data behind the assertions in makes in the story explaining the polling data. Where is the polling data?

Posted by: Doug_Feaver | October 30, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

A friend of ours who bounces from one view of an issue to another like a rubber ball recommended to me back during the 2008 campaign to start watching these two comedians and recently, I took him up on it.
After the World Series, I catch up with them on reruns.
I'm so happy to see the turnout on the Mall.
They deserve it.
And, I want to say, as well, that Jon Stewart and President Obama conducted one of the best interviews I've seen since President Obama took office.
Stewart asked questions no one had asked the President quite so bluntly and President Obama cooperated with humor and kindness and calm responses appealing to taking issues seriously and debating issues, not platitudes or political rhetoric.
They both did a fine job on the air.
I sat through the interview twice and was immensely satisfied.
I also listened intently to Stephen Colbert's 5-minute testimony before Congress for migrant workers in California and thought his comments were right on point.
Those congressmen who put down his testimony (I'll guarantee anyone that THEY wouldn't get out in a field for a day and do that hard work!) were disgusting and their response is what is wrong with Congress.
Stephen Colbert did a fine job before Congress and we need more people like him speaking to issues.
So, I'm delighted at the response to their rally.
I watched all 3 hours.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | October 30, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

You got it all wrong. Shouldn't be a matchup of Stewart vs. Colbert. Should be Stewart/Colbert ticket vs. Beck/Palin -- no doubt the Stewart/Colbert team would wipe the floor with them, not least because Stewart/Colbert actually use facts and their supporters can read and spell.

Posted by: Pupster | October 30, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Is this for real? How can we be sure that this isn't a satire poll? And if this is a real poll, at this juncture why would any polling group waste the time and money to do this poll? This is a ridiculous waste! And yet many people are taking this seriously! Something is deeply wrong in this country!

Posted by: Prakosh | October 30, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I like Stewart much better than Colbert. Stewart is just himself, and therefore much more spontaneous & unpredictable. Colbert's one note samba wears really thin. If I want to see an absurd right wing blow hard make an ass of himself, I can watch the real thing on Faux.

Posted by: Jihm | October 30, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

This rally WAS political. The message was
"watch me, (Stewart) instead of the cable stations" This is what Obama's been trying to do from the very beginnning too.
Obama doesn't want anyone to question or disagree with him.
Stewart is NO DIFFERENT than the cable stations, however. Stewart ridicules, exaggerates the facts and pretends to be a comic. Stewart is More dangerous than the cable stations because he Pretends he's a comic, but he's actually influencing politics.

Posted by: ohioan | October 31, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

This newspaper and too many liberals are far too impressed by what people say in speeches rather than what they do in their daily lives. Stewart's speech judged only on the words spoken was good. But Stewart like Obama cannot expect us to judge him favorably when their actions are so one sided and often so different than their words...

Posted by: Illinois4 | October 31, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Here in Australia, my two kids, a boy 14 and a girl 11, are split on who is their favorite. Amazingly they get the humor even though most American politics and political culture is alien to them. I prefer Stewart but watch both shows on our ETHNIC channel. So whaddaya think about that, you bunch of Northerm Hemispherian ethnics?

(I knew an American illegal immigrant in Australia who overstayed his visa because he just couldn't stand the idea of having to go back to "dumb America". His name was Bob, but we called him "Bahhb" - because that was how he pronounced it. He disappeared one day and we assumed the authorities finally caught up with him. I wonder what he makes of illegal immigrants in America today.)

Posted by: icurhuman2 | October 31, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

NewsBusters: ABC, WaPo Burn Their Cash With Stewart-Trumps-Colbert Prez Poll

Posted by: StewartIII | November 1, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Nice example of useless polling.
Should have donated what it cost to the "Yellow Ribbon Fund" for example.

Posted by: tzimmerm | November 1, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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