Study: TV Comics Hit Mitt Most

October 31, 2012

Press Release
October 31, 2012
Contact: Katy Davis

Joked About More Than All Dems Combined

Letterman Leads The Charge

Latenight TV talk-show comedians have told more jokes about Mitt Romney than about all Democrats combined since the party nominating conventions, according to a new study of political humor by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). Overall, the study found that Republicans were the targets of jokes more than twice as often as Democrats, with the greatest disparity occurring in David Letterman’s monologues.

According to CMPA President Dr. Robert Lichter, “Romney is leading in the humor race, but being the biggest joke is a race nobody wants to win.”

From August 27 to October 3, 2012, CMPA analyzed the targets of all jokes about public figures in the opening monologues of the highest rated late night talk show hosts on the broadcast networks – Jay Leno (“Tonight Show”), David Letterman (“Late Show”), Craig Ferguson (“Late Late Show,” and Jimmy Fallon (“Late Night”). CMPA has been tracking the targets of late night TV comedians since 1988.

Major Findings:

Mitt Romney was the target of 148 jokes on latenight talk show monologues, over twice as many as President Obama. Obama finished second with 62 jokes.

The disparity was greatest on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” Letterman told 44 jokes about Romney and 9 about Obama, a five to one margin. But all four comedians told more Romney jokes than Obama jokes.

There were 290 jokes about Republicans, more than twice the 138 jokes about Democrats. The Top Ten joke targets included 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

For Barack Obama, being bypassed by TV’s humorists is nothing new. In the 2008 general election, CMPA found that he finished fourth with 243 jokes, behind GOP candidates John McCain (658), Sarah Palin (566), and outgoing president George W. Bush (244).

For all four comedians combined, joke totals for the top ten targets of late night political humor were:

  1. Mitt Romney (R) – 148
  2. Barack Obama (D) – 62
  3. Arnold Schwarzenegger — 39
  4. Bill Clinton (D) — 28
  5. Paul Ryan (R) — 20
  6. Prince Harry — 19
  7. Clint Eastwood (R) – 18
  8. Joe Biden (D) — 16
  9. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – 15
  10. Chris Christie (R) – 14


The Center for Media and Public Affairs is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, which is affiliated with George Mason University. It has monitored every presidential election and every new administration since 1988 using the same methodology. To find more information on the 2012 election, please visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *