By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) - A fake U.S. presidential candidate named Deez Nuts, reported to be the creation of an Iowa teenager, has stirred a social media frenzy by polling nearly 10 percent of registered North Carolina voters in a hypothetical match-up against Hillary Clinton and 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 U.S. Federal Election Commission by 15-year-old Brady Olson, a high school student from Wallingford, Iowa, according to the Daily Beast.
Within days, pollsters at Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling decided to start including Deez Nuts, then just beginning to generate online chatter, 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 told Reuters on Thursday, acknowledging the Nuts polling was done as a lark. "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, Public Policy Polling found that 9 percent 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 Clinton and Trump, who leads among Republicans. Clinton and Trump polled 38 and 40 percent, respectively.
The Nuts campaign garnered 8 percent in polling a week earlier in Iowa and 7 percent the week before that in Minnesota, Williams said.
By comparison, PPP polling in Iowa gave Trump 21 percent of the vote as an independent candidate running in a three-way match-up against Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush. The margin of error of PPP's polling was plus or minus 4 percent.
"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," Williams said.
Olson could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters. 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.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney)