Revolutionizing Politics Social Networks: the new frontier.
YouTube and the 2008 presidential election: a double edged sword for candidates
A search for your favorite political candidate may result in a clip of an inspiring speech, or a moment of embarrassment.
Total number of results from the 3 searches: 93,650 videos, millions of views.
Media embraces YouTube
In this season’s presidential primary election debate cycles, both parties held YouTube debates, allowing users to send in video asking the candidates their questions.
The concept of taking questions from “everyday people” isn’t new; we’ve had town hall debates with questions from the audience in previous elections. However, using the internet and YouTube as the medium for asking these questions helps with accessibility (many people don’t live in Iowa or New Hampshire) and got young people more involved.
So does it help or hinder?
The author of the article “Of slips and video clips; Campaigning on the internet” in The Economist shows examples of how it can go either direction.
Clips of candidates “flip-flopping” or changing their stance on an issue played in rapid succession are often used as an attack by opponents or non-supporters, and don’t put the candidate in a good light. Politicians, especially those with long political careers (with countless hours of video footage for editing) can provide perfect material for these controversial videos. Example: John McCain "Double-Talk”
What effect have videos had on your opinions of the candidates this election cycle?
The Democrats embrace social networking.
The article in The Economist also notes that Barack Obama has been the most effective in utilizing the internet, with more YouTube video views than any other candidate, and a popular MySpace page.
At the time the article was written, nearly a year ago, Obama had 62,801 friends on MySpace. He now has over 200,000.
Hillary Clinton, his closest democratic rival has 185,576 friends on her page.
Both candidates use video clips on their pages to highlight their successes.
John McCain has 46,424 friends on his MySpace page, clearly less than the democrats.
Examples of videos that have had political impact
Howard Dean's Scream - 514,000 views.
Dean subsequently dropped out of the race
John Edwards "Feeling Pretty” - 1,121,453 views
Faced harsh criticism over hair throughout campaign
George Allen's "Macaca" scandal - 301,094 views
Lost re-election campaign
No longer considered as contender for 2008 presidential candidate
In what ways has the internet affected your political opinions? How do you use the internet relating to politics?
Will you use social networking sites to investigate candidates in the upcoming elections? Which sites, and why?
In watching this presentation, have any of the videos changed your opinion of the candidates? Why or why not?
What other websites besides YouTube and MySpace have political impact?
In your opinion, what will online support translate to in the next election? (Votes, money, organization, nothing?)
Notes, thoughts, things to keep in mind.
It should be noted that most pundits, authors, and politicians clearly acknowledge the negative effect that sites such as YouTube can have, but none have seen actual votes as a positive result of online participation in past elections.
This election cycle fund-raising has been one concrete way to measure that online participation does produce results.
In the coming election we will see if that also translates to votes. Examining exit polls will tell us whether the youth really do break records with their turnout this election. If they do, the internet will certainly be considered as one of the reasons why.