Winter 2010

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Northwestern is the quarterly alumni magazine for Northwestern University.
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'Colbert Bump' for Northwestern

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee credited his appearance on The Colbert Report with putting him briefly ahead in the 2008 Republican presidential primary race. Without the “Colbert bump,” said Huckabee, “I would be probably somewhere serving hamburgers at a drive-in restaurant.”

We don’t need truthiness to believe in the Colbert bump. Political scientist James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, studied the phenomenon and found that Democrats who appear on the Report reap 44 percent more campaign donations within a month than those who skip the show. (It doesn’t really do much for Republicans.)

Will Colbert give Northwestern his signature bump? The 2011 U.S. News & World Report college rankings list Dartmouth, Duke and the University of Chicago tied for ninth place, while Northwestern languishes at 12. (Dartmouth is the alma mater for Stephen Colbert the TV character, where he fictitiously worked on the conservative student paper the Dartmouth Review.)

Colbert is surprised to hear that Northwestern is ranked No. 12 and considers the news briefly before answering. Regarding the University of Chicago, he declares, “We never thought about the University of Chicago! Northwestern is to the University of Chicago as Chicago is to St. Louis: Everyone in St. Louis is like,” Colbert clenches his fist and shakes it, “ ‘Ahhh, Chicago!’ We’re like, ‘We don’t even think about you.’” — C.P.