Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon told more jokes about Republican candidate Mitt Romney than nearly all Democrats combined since the party conventions earlier this year, a study found.
The study, released Wednesday by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, found that Republicans were the butt of jokes more than twice as often as Democrats, especially in Letterman's monologues.
"Romney is leading in the humor race, but being the biggest joke is a race nobody wants to win," Dr. Robert Lichter, the center's president, said in a statement.
Researchers analyzed late night talk show hosts' jabs at public figures from Aug. 27 to Oct. 3, tracking Leno's "Tonight Show," Letterman's "Late Show," Ferguson's "Late Late Show," and Fallon's "Late Night."
They discovered that Romney was the target of 148 jokes, more than twice as many as President Barack Obama. Obama was the butt of 62 jokes.
The greatest difference was with Letterman, who told 44 jokes about Romney and five about Obama.
The numbers support Romney's notion that Letterman has it in for him: In the same secretly recorded video in which Romney talked about the "47 percent," he told supporters that Letterman "hates" him for doing Leno's "Tonight Show" more than his show.
Letterman has responded by denying he hates Romney, repeatedly inviting him back on his show, and at one point calling him "delusional."
Here are the late-night joke totals for the top ten targets of late night political humor, according to the study:
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