Thursday, May 15, 2008

On YouTube, Politics is Still Local

This week, Democrat Travis Childers won a special election held in Mississippi's 1st District, securing a hotly-contested congressional seat that had been in GOP hands for fourteen-years. With over a million dollars invested by each party, this was the costliest fight for a congressional seat yet—and one of the first in which both sides used YouTube as a key part of their campaign strategy.

The NRCC's YouTube channel posted several negative ads against Childers, taking aim at his political positions, his business practices, and his high-profile supporters, including Barack Obama. One of their videos even links Childers—through Obama—to Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Meanwhile, Childers seized the initiative and launched his own YouTube channel. In a series of videos, Childers responded to various accusations and defined himself as a new kind of Democrat: a pro-gun, pro-life populist dedicated to helping Mississippians get better jobs and affordable healthcare. Several of his videos have thousands of views on YouTube.

By embracing new media as a key part of their campaign strategy, Childers and groups like the NRCC are proving that a global platform like YouTube can be effective in local politics.


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