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July 11, 2006

Here's Betting the D's are More Creative Than the R's

Notice a lot more YouTube clips lately?  Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post says he thinks that the proliferation of video and audio tapes floating around the political world lately are going to revolutionize politics and fast.  From the article:

"YouTube is a campaign game-changer, shifting the dynamics of how to reach voters and build intimate relationships," says Julie Supan, senior marketing director for the small, California-based firm, which by one measure now runs the 39th most popular Web site. "YouTube levels the playing field, allowing well-backed and less-known candidates to reach the same audience and share the same stage."

Even the seemingly simple act of posting footage of a politician's interview on "Meet the Press" or "The Daily Show" has a viral quality, because it can be seen by far more people than watched during a single broadcast.

I think he's on to something.  I have loved posting or passing along links to favorite video-clips recently.  These things are powerful.  For example, here are three of my favorites, a couple of which I've posted here recently:

"Ned Lamont has a Messy Desk" - a completely new kind of political ad, one that really brings Ned Lamont into your living room.

"The Rejected Katherine Harris Campaign Video" - a bitingly funny spoof of Katherine Harris' campaign for the Florida Senate

"The Inquisition - What a Show" - a Mel Brooks special from years ago that is hauntingly humorous. 

And no one would have ever seen the roast of Bush that Stephen Colbert did at the Washington Correspondents' Association Dinner unless we had this very democratic new means of sharing what's going on in one place with folks all over the country.  Transcript here.

And then there are the audio-clips of speeches, which extend the reach, as Kurtz said, of individuals, like Michael Greco, President of the ABA, talking about the crisis in our democracy brought about by the actions of the Bush Administration.  They take a little while to listen to but a lot less than making our to Town Hall. Not to mention, they're great for people who don't live where the speeches happen. 
Having access to the blogs and to the very entertaining new videos, is likely to change everything about politics, as fast as in this election cycle.   So, who is this going to benefit?  Clearly it will benefit folks who aren't interested in watching boring old TV news but still want some information and a "sense" of what's going on. 

But will it shift the numbers in November?  I'm betting so. I'm betting that along with the reach of the blogs and the ability of people to give small amounts of money to candidates online, the exponential increase in ability to show video and audio clips is going to benefit the Democrats.   

Howard Kurtz says that the YouTube site is only 18 months old.  It has 80 million videos that are viewed each day.   And the political clips tend to lean left.  Now, is that any surprise?  I would think that Democrats, progressives, liberals, social activists and all, are likely to be more creative in making these new types of media.  We live in the cities; we hang out with a variety of people; and we are more used to stretching ourselves to think in new ways.   Perhaps, most importantly, we are desperate to make our point of view heard and understood and have finally realized that lecturing doesn't do it.  (Or at least we're coming along on that one).  All good.  Should make a difference in reaching a new audience.

On the other hand, Karl Rove is a mean, nasty opponent and quite bright.  He started a whisper campaign in conservative Democratic West Texas in the 1994 election that pitted his candidate, George W. Bush, against Ann Richards.  He had local good-ole-boys put it out that she was a lesbian.  In the 1990 election, Rove put out bogus claims against Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower right before he was due to sail to reelection.  The story of the FBI inquiring into corruption charges days before election day cost Hightower the election to another future governor, Rick Perry.  The charges were patently false.  As Hightower famously quipped, "They caught me with my pants up." 

So this is not likely to be a walk-away benefit for the Democrats.  The Democrats will have to have SWAT teams that are prepared to counter the nasty Republican uses of these same technologies.  We have to play both offensive and defensive well here, folks, in order to use these new technologies to move our cause forward and take advantage of what would seem to be a natural advantage we have. 

Hat tip to Howie Martin at Howie in Seattle for the tip on the WAPO article.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 11, 2006 at 10:04 PM in Media, Strategery | Permalink

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