Stephen Colbert is the Most Popular Choice to Replace Jim DeMint in South Carolina, Says New Poll

With South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint retiring at the end of this year to lead the Heritage Foundation in January, voters are thinking about who they’d like Governor Nikki Haley to replace the Tea Party leader.

The most popular choice may surprise you: comedian and political pundit Stephen Colbert.

Yes, that’s right, STEPHEN COLBERT!

In a Public Policy Poll released today, nearly 20% of registered South Carolina voters chose Stephen Colbert as their most favored replacement for Senator DeMint, beating back potential challengers Tim Scott, Trey Gowdy, and Jenny Sanford (all Republicans) at 15%, 14%, and 11% respectively. Everyone else polled in single digits.

Haley is one of the most unpopular governors in the state’s history, with 49% of voters disapproving of her performance. Democrats (78%) and Independents (57%) hate her. Haley could buoy her sinking poll ratings before her 2014 re-election campaign by appointing a popular successor for DeMint.

From PPP’s report:

"It's Democrats and independents — those voters Haley most needs to improve her standing with — who are pining for a Colbert appointment. Among Democrats, 32% say they'd like Colbert to be picked with Jenny Sanford at 19% and no one else in double digits. With crucial independent voters Colbert has a 15 point lead for the appointment, getting 28% to 13% for Tim Scott, 12% for Jenny Sanford, and 10% for Trey Gowdy with no one else in double digits."

Last Thursday, after news of DeMint’s resignation went public, Colbert asked the governor for the nomination. Watch below:

 

Unfortunately, Haley shot down Colbert’s request on Friday afternoon via Facebook:

"Stephen, thank you for your interest in South Carolina's U.S. Senate seat and for the thousands of tweets you and your fans sent me.

"But you forget one thing, my friend.

"You didn't know our state drink. Big, big mistake."

The governor was referring to her visit on Colbert’s show last April, when Colbert was unable to name the state drink of South Carolina correctly. It’s milk, by the way. (To be fair to Colbert, why would you want to drink milk in a state that hot?)

No word on whether South Carolina voters suddenly decided to be way cooler, or don’t get that his act is tongue-in-cheek.

When Colbert is removed from the question, PPP reports that Jenny Sanford is the most popular candidate, polling at 17% to Tim Scott at 16%.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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