Will Stewart Rally Democratic Enthusiasm?

Some Democrats believe the Jon Stewart - Stephen Colbert rally this weekend will serve as a get-out-the-vote drive.

President Obama Daily Show Jon Stewart

Some Democrats believe the Jon Stewart – Stephen Colbert rally this weekend will serve as a get-out-the-vote drive.

Democrats are looking to a pair of comedians to do what President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and dozens of other leaders haven’t done yet this election season: Get party members excited about voting.

Comedy Central television hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert expect tens of thousands of fans to join them at the “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington Oct. 30, three days before congressional elections across the U.S. The president will appear on “The Daily Show” tonight in his first visit to Stewart’s program since he was elected.

“It will be a great chance to rally the base, especially among young people,” said Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University in Washington. “For Stewart, sanity is a code word for Democratic.”

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday Obama is going on Stewart’s show because it “reaches an audience that isn’t watching cable television every day, or the nightly newscasts, but they’re probably going to participate in this election.”

The story appeared yesterday; Obama’s appearance has already aired.

I’m actually quite skeptical of this.  Stewart’s audience, which includes myself and several other OTB writers, consists almost entirely of educated people with a strong enough interest in politics to care about it months away from an election. These people don’t need much spur to vote; it’s just what they do.

To the extent that it will energize voting, though, it’s an interesting contrast to the big Glenn Beck rally on August 28 that was its inspiration. Certainly, three days before an election is better timing than nine weeks before.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. reid says:

    “For Stewart, sanity is a code word for Democratic.”

    I’m not sure about that. Taken at face value, it refers to anyone who isn’t a nutty extremist. Obviously, it’s more of a reaction to the far-right extremists like Beck, Angle, etc that have risen to prominence. I think he’s trying to motivate the bulk of Americans who are normal, sane, and moderate or apolitical for the most part.

  2. john personna says:

    reid, the funny thing about the quote is the positioning it implies:

    “if he’s talking ‘sanity’ he must be against the Republicans”

  3. reid says:

    jp: Heh. It is a sign of the times.