The numbers are worse if Fred’s the GOP nominee, but only slightly: Hillary 46, Fred 34, Colby 12. Writes Rasmussen:

Colbert does particularly well with the younger voters most likely to be watching his show and therefore most aware of his myriad presidential-like qualities. In the match-up with Giuliani and Clinton, Colbert draws 28% of likely voters aged 18-29. He draws 31% of that cohort when his foes are Thompson and Clinton. In both match-ups, Colbert has more support with young voters than the GOP candidate.

The italics are in the original but I’d have added them myself if they weren’t.

I’m flagging this for one reason only. By all accounts Colby’s audience skews young, male, and liberal, i.e. nutrootsy. Nutroots disgruntlement with Hillary’s (relative) centrism means logically Colbert should be lifting more votes from her than from the Republican nominee. That turns out to be true if Fred’s the nominee: she leads him 52-37 head to head, which means Colby takes six points from her and only three from his otherwise deep red base. But it’s not true if Rudy’s the nominee. Hillary leads him 48-41, a net loss of three points for her and six points for Rudy. Which I guess confirms what we’ve suspected all along — that there are a lot of independent Hillary-haters who are prepared to vote for a centrist Republican (but not a conservative Republican) over her unless they’ve got a better anti-Hillary alternative. It also suggests, however, that there’s a solid 44-46% in her column already and that not many of them are looking for a protest vote, even as a goof.

Exit question: Is the big winner here Ron Paul? That 12-13% that Colbert’s getting is pure “none of the above.” Good news for America’s Greatest Patriot if he goes third-party.

Update: Another explanation for Hillary’s solidifying base, especially among the Colbert demographic: among voters 18-44, she’s gone from trailing Obama 32-25 in June to leading him 42-20.