Gore Closes the Late Night Comedy Gap

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The survey found 51 percent of adults regularly or sometimes get information about candidates from comedy shows such and sources such as MTV. The figure soared to 79 percent for people younger than 30.

And this information has hardly escaped the candidates. Besides appearing on Letterman and Leno, both candidates taped appearances for a Saturday Night Live political special.

The emphasis on late-night campaigning might be one legacy of the Clinton presidency. During the 1992 campaign, when he was trailing in the polls, Clinton’s comeback was marked by his unconventional appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, when he played the saxophone.

“So far, it is not a great predictor of elections,” Amundson says. “But can you now imagine a national election without the factor of late-night TV?”

Buck Wolf is a producer at The Wolf Files is a weekly feature. This column originally ran on May 5, 1999.