LOS ANGELES • A fake US presidential candidate named Deez Nuts, created by an Iowa teenager, has stirred a social media frenzy by polling nearly 10 per cent of registered North Carolina voters in a hypothetical match-up against Mrs Hillary Clinton and Mr Donald Trump.
A statement of candidacy on behalf of the fictional 2016 White House hopeful, listing him as an independent, was filed on July 26 with the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) by 15-year-old Brady Olson, a high school student from Iowa, according to the Daily Beast.
Within days, Public Policy Polling (PPP), a non-scientific polling operation, decided to start including Deez Nuts in its statewide surveys after the Nuts "campaign" asked to be part of the mix.
"We didn't know it was a 15-year-old at first," polling analyst Jim Williams said. "We saw the official filing statement, so we went with it. If it's good enough for the FEC, it's good enough for us."
As recently as last weekend in North Carolina, PPP found that 9 per cent of 600 registered voters questioned in its statewide survey said they would vote for Nuts as an independent in a three-way race against Democratic front-runner Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump, who leads among Republicans. Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump polled 38 and 40 per cent, respectively.
The Nuts campaign garnered 8 per cent in polling a week earlier in Iowa and 7 per cent the week before that in Minnesota, Mr Williams said.
By comparison, PPP surveys in Iowa gave Mr Trump 21 per cent of the vote as an independent in a three-way match-up against Mrs Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush.
"This was the third week that we've polled Deez Nuts on the match-ups, and this week for some reason it really exploded on the Internet," said Mr Williams.
PPP director Tom Jensen concluded from the surge that "right now the voters don't like either of the people leading in the two main parties, and that creates an appetite for a third-party candidate".
In an interview with the Daily Beast, the teenager said he was inspired in part by the faux candidacy of Limberbutt McCubbins, a cat from Kentucky purported to be running as a Democrat.
REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES