Photo by David Shankbone
A new survey from Public Policy Polling finds Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert as the top choice among South Carolina voters to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint.
Colbert, who grew up in Charleston, garners the support of 20 percent of voters in the Palmetto State, followed by Republican congressmen Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy at 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The poll results come as Republican Gov. Nikki Haley ponders her choice to take the seat held by DeMint, who announced last week that he would step down in January after seven years in the U.S. Senate in order to head up the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.
Host of the eponymous “Colbert Report” and a quixotic presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012, Colbert is favored by 32 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents.
However, Colbert is the choice of just 6 percent of Republicans. Instead, GOP voters prefer Scott at 22 percent and Gowdy at 21 percent. If Scott is selected as DeMint’s replacement, he would be the lone African-American member of the U.S. Senate for either party.
Although it may be highly improbable that Haley would choose Colbert, who is viewed favorably by just 14 percent of Republicans versus 44 percent of Democrats, such a bold stroke could boost the governor’s own poll numbers.
“Nikki Haley is one of the most unpopular governors in the country,” pollster Tom Jensen writes. “There is a path back to popularity for Haley though: appointing Stephen Colbert to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate.”
Meanwhile, former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford is the choice of 11 percent of state voters to replace DeMint, beating out her ex-husband and former governor Mark Sanford, who gets the support of 8 percent of voters. In 2009, Mark Sanford tried to conceal a visit to his mistress in Argentina by claiming to instead be hiking the Appalachian Trail.