The Colbert bump is real

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Tune into just about any episode of The Colbert Report, and you'll hear Stephen Colbert extolling the virtues of the "Colbert bump," the phenomenon wherein candidates, authors, and musicians appearing on his show experience an immediate surge in popularity and sales of whatever they happen to be hawking. Among the many bumps for which Colbert has claimed credit, see Toby Keith's #1 album last year, Salman Rushdie's knighthood, and the fact that the names Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee mean something to you.

Now, James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, has just completed a study demonstrating the "first scientific evidence of Stephen Colbert's influence on political campaigns." Yes, Virginia, the Colbert bump is real.

Fowler examined the rate and amount of fundraising done by House candidates who appeared on Colbert's show for his "Better Know a District" segment. Democrats who appear on the show raise 44 percent more money in the 30 days after appearing on the show than Dems that don't appear. But it's bad news for Republicans: No bump. Their donations stay flat.

Advice for Barack and Hillary, given that Colbert is taking his show on the road next week to Pennsylvania in advance of the presidential primary there: Get thee to the Report.

H/T: The Monkey Cage


Iraqi athletes train for Olympics, dodging violence along the way


Training for the Olympics is tough, but dodging sniper bullets usually isn't part of a day's workout for most athletes. Unless you're Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq. She and three other Iraqis so far have qualified for this summer's Olympics, and they are doggedly determined to keep training despite the lack of resources and security. Abdul-Razzaq doesn't have proper running shoes, and she trains on a pockmarked track that she isn't officially allowed to use. She and her coach regularly get caught up in sniper fire on the way to and from training.

Meanwhile, archer Ali Adnan, who was attacked by militants linked to al Qaeda in 2006, practices mainly in his backyard; it's too difficult to travel in and out of his neighborhood. These Iraqi athletes, as well the Afghan athletes featured in FP's recent photo essay, "The Olympians of Afghanistan," have definitely got the Olympic spirit.