Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Candidates caught singing on camera. Dorm-room presidential interviews. A martial arts master endorsing a presidential candidate. Citizen-created campaign commercials. And two presidential primary debates. 2007 was quite a year for YouTube Politics.
At this time last year, YouTube had developed a reputation as a place where "gotcha!" videos posted by citizens were changing the political landscape. Some even called the 2006 U.S. midterm elections "the YouTube election" after several candidates were caught on camera saying things they probably shouldn't have. But in 2007, that changed. Seizing the YouTube opportunity, presidential candidates came rushing to the platform themselves, setting up official campaign channels on our You Choose '08 platform. Seven of the 16 presidential candidates even announced their candidacies on YouTube.
Candidates and voters now speak to each other through video. At their best, campaigns use YouTube not as a shrunken TV screen through which to distribute their soundbites, but as a window through which to have a dialogue with the American people. YouTube's leveling effect is this: anyone can upload a video with their political message, and the best content rises to the top through community view counts, rankings, linkages, and embeds. Any voter with a video camera and access to the Internet has the opportunity to be seen and heard.
Our two presidential debates with CNN highlighted this phenomenon. Eight thousand video questions were submitted for the two record-setting debates, which opened up a traditionally closed event to the rest of the world via YouTube. Time was, you had to be in New Hampshire, Iowa, or Florida to get access to candidates at a debate. With questions coming directly from voters via video, our YouTube debates helped to break down some of the geographical barriers that have so sharply defined American politics in the past.
So what's ahead in 2008? Things are only going to get more exciting. As Congressional and Senate races heat up, you'll see more and more candidates coming to YouTube. And as the presidential races narrows down to two candidates, YouTube will be a critical battlefront in the general election. With voters, candidates, issue groups, media companies, trade associations, lobbyists and activists all interacting on the same level platform, 2008 promises to be a true "YouTube Election."