Two professors have written a study purporting to show that “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart’s retirement hurt Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, The New York Post reported.
“The transition at ‘The Daily Show’ spurred a 1.1% increase in Trump’s county-level vote share,” researchers Ethan Porter of George Washington University and Thomas J. Wood of Ohio State University wrote.
Neither Porter nor Wood, who are each assistant professors at their respective universities, responded to a Daily Wire inquiry regarding their study.
As Kyle Smith wrote at The New York Post, “spurred” is a strong word to use when “coincided with” is more likely the case. If Stewart did have such an effect, which the authors note was “not large,” according to Fast Company, it could have cost Clinton the election because Trump only won Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by 1% or less.
Smith points out that Stewart’s average audience for his most-watched episodes “was less than 3 million people – not even 1% of the population and not all of them of voting age?”
Further, Smith wrote, when Trevor Noah took over the show, ratings initially dipped just 30%, but then rose.
The researchers, according to Fast Company, suggest that it wasn’t Stewarts opinions and jokes – designed for a left-wing audience – that would have helped Clinton, “but rather his ability to get out the vote and help people realize how important it is to exercise that right.” The researchers wrote that Stewart’s retirement from “The Daily Show” reduced voter mobilization.
Stewart’s last episode aired in August 2015 – as each political party was beginning debates and months before each party selected a candidate. In fact, Stewart’s last episode aired on August 6, 2015. You know what else aired on August 6, 2015? The first Republican primary debate.
It may be just as possible that Trump’s bump in “county-level vote share” was a result of voters seeing his debate performance and realizing he was in the race to win.
In another example of people holding “The Daily Show” to perhaps too high a degree when it comes to elections, Michael Sainato wrote in an op-ed at The New York Observer (where I also have a byline) that Clinton would be losing if Stewart were still the host. Sainato wrote that the departures of Stephen Colbert from “The Colbert Report” and Stewart may have hurt Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign because they likely would have given him more press coverage than the mainstream media.
“It’s impossible to quantify what their influence would have been on the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but their coverage has surely been missed in an election where the media has done a terrible job—giving Bernie Sanders’ campaign little-to-no coverage while he makes history by breaking campaign contribution records and campaign rally attendances,” Sainato wrote.
This does not mean that Sainato is right and Porter and Wood are wrong, it just means that trying to find explanations for Clinton’s loss that don’t involve Clinton as a poor candidate leads to some wild conclusions.