Deez Nuts, Explained

The 2016 presidential race has already had its share of crazy developments — the most momentous of which has been Donald Trump reaching the top of the Republican field and staying there for weeks. But this month saw another not-very-serious candidate get surprisingly strong poll results. Full story: http://bit.ly/1Jx2MX8
  1. People have been using "deez nuts" as a vulgar slang term at least since it was used in a 1992 hip-hop song. But use of the term soared in March 2015. That's when a video of internet personality welvendagreat saying "deez nuts" into a cellphone and laughing uproariously was posted on YouTube. The video went viral.
  2. A 15-year-old Iowan named Brady Olson decided to launch a Deez Nuts for president campaign. He filed FEC form 2, the official form for launching a presidential campaign, and entered fictional information about the candidate. Mr. Nuts supposedly lives at 2248 450th Avenue, in Wallingford, Iowa. He's running as an independent.
  3. Someone emailed the firm Public Policy Polling to ask them to poll Deez Nuts. PPP said yes. So far, polls show him getting at least 7 percent of the vote in Minnesota, Iowa, and North Carolina. Nuts is relatively unknown among voters: 89 percent of Minnesota respondents said they'd never heard of him.
  4. Nuts attracted the strongest support from voters under 30 — 11 percent of young Minnesotans said they'd back him over Clinton and Trump. Among voters over 65, just 7 percent backed Nuts. He seems to draw equally from both parties; he won support from 7 percent of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, compared with 8 percent of Romney voters.
  5. The decision by a real polling agency to poll a fake candidate isn't out of character for the firm, which is known for including joke questions alongside serious ones in its polls. Evidently the pollsters believe trolling the public is a good way to drum up interest in their more serious polling efforts.
  6. PPP is one of the most prolific Democratic-leaning polling outfits in America, and its results are widely cited in the media. However, there has been some criticism of its methodology. In 2013, TNR's Nate Cohn argued that PPP adjusts the demographic weighting of its polls in ad hoc and nontransparent ways. (There's no proof the PPP has done this.)
  7. It's a mistake to read too much into polls — especially polls this far in advance of an election. Three ways to interpret the surprisingly high name recognition and support for an imaginary candidate: most voters are not political junkies, voters may have viewed Nuts as a generic protest candidate, and "Deez Nuts" is funny.
  8. As the election gets closer, voters do start to pay attention and form an opinion about which of the major-party candidates would make a better president. So we should take Nuts's apparent support with a huge grain of salt.