On Notice: Colbert trounces Obama on Facebook

"1,000,000 Strong For Stephen T Colbert" may be the fastest-growing Facebook group of all time.

Published October 26, 2007 6:10PM (EDT)

Late in January, just before Barack Obama formally joined the presidential race, a few of the senator's enterprising fans created a hopeful group on Facebook: "One Million Strong for Barack." Nine months later, the group has attracted 384,780 members.

In not quite the same vein, in February, clever critics of Hillary Clinton created a Facebook group called "Stop Hillary Clinton: (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)," which appealed to Democrats, Republicans and independents to "unite behind a single cause -- ensuring Hillary Clinton is not elected President of the United States." A bit more than 500,000 people have joined so far.

Shortly after Stephen Colbert announced that he would be running for president in South Carolina -- that is, just last week -- Raj Vachhani, a high school student in Montgomery, Ala., created a Facebook group called "1,000,000 Strong For Stephen T Colbert." And unlike the Obama and anti-Hillary organizations, the Colbert group's name tells the truth: On Thursday night, the millionth member joined. Right now, 1,021,588 Facebookers support Colbert.

There are no official stats, but as far as anyone can tell, this is the fastest-growing Facebook group of all time.

But hark! Off in the distance I hear an angry mob screaming at me for not mentioning Republican Rep. Ron Paul. The Paul kids are notoriously tech-savvy, and they drive Republicans on the Web nuts. Just the other day, RedState.com -- where Paul supporters are called Paultards, MoRons, Ronulans, and, most damning, liberals -- announced that it is prohibiting all new registrants to the site from saying anything positive about Paul. "If your account is less than 6 months old ... you cannot pimp Ron Paul," site admins declared.

Later they amended the policy: "You may shill for Ron Paul, with one condition: you must do it using the form of Japanese poetry known as Haiku."

But on Facebook, the Rondelles -- my coinage -- are a pitiful force. Neither "One Million Strong for Ron Paul" nor "1,000,000 Strong for Ron Paul for President" cracks 500 members.

One more thing on Colbert: If he's serious about entering the race -- and as Politico reports, Comedy Central has contacted an election-law firm to sort out of the legal implications of a TV personality running for president, so he may be -- his Facebook prowess is only one sign of his strength.

Earlier this week Rasmussen ran a national survey asking how Colbert, running as an independent, would fare against the current front-runners. In a three way matchup -- Hillary Clinton (D) vs. Rudy Giuliani (R) vs. Stephen Colbert (I) -- Clinton gets 45 percent, Giuliani gets 35 percent, and Colbert gets 13 percent. Colbert, Rasmussen noted, attracts more young people than either Giuliani or Fred Thompson.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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