Politics As Usual On YouTube

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YouTube is often thought of as a powerful political tool, and, well, it probably is.  But new statistics indicate that YouTube users gravitate towards mainstream candidates, and that “negative” videos are among the most popular political clips out there.

In an article for NewTeeVee, Steve Bryant explains how criticizing YouTube is a no-win situation.  “If you deride its star-making potential, you’re accused of old media partisanship.  If you doubt its meritocratic infallibility, you’re a curmudgeon, scribbling from behind the fame-inflaming footlights of ‘most viewed today.’  If you giggle at the candidates try – God, how they try! – to connect with their constituents, you are jaded, jaded, jaded.”

I’ll admit to those last two character flaws.  Don’t blame these findings on me, though – they come straight from Nielsen//NetRatings and The Wall Street Journal.  “Traffic on YouTube related to the 2008 presidential race spiked in March and April, largely on two unofficial, critical videos, one about Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, the other about Republican John McCain,” reports Amy Schatz.

Further analysis from Bryant points out that “[t]he top three most popular candidates in each party are also the top three most viewed candidates on YouTube.  Hilary, Barack, Edwards, McCain, Romney, Guliani.”  There’s not one upstart to be seen, and not even any real surprises in the percentages (videos about those six candidates received 23.2%, 20%, 16.1%, 14.9%, 6.2%, and 1.3%, respectively, of all “political viewing time” on YouTube).

YouTube’s certainly not bad, and I wouldn’t even care to echo Bryant’s assertion that it has failed us.  But Google’s video-sharing service doesn’t seem to have done much in the way of upsetting traditional politics.

Politics As Usual On YouTube
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