Over the weekend, I did a quick check on the five candidates who are running in the special election on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, in Massachusetts for the US Senate. That’s right, there’s an election tomorrow!
I did a search in YouTube for the term, Massachusetts Senate race, and all I saw were ads from Adobe Systems and Lowes. And the top two organic listings were videos from CBS News Online about the Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown campaigns, which ended almost six months ago.
Since then, US Senator John Kerry has become the Secretary of State and that required a special election to be held to fill out the year-and-a-half remaining in his term. The Democratic and Republican primaries are tomorrow.
But it appears that the two Democrats and three Republicans running for this seat in Congress’s upper chamber haven’t heard of this advancement in modern technology called “the YouTubes” by President William Howard Taft in a guest post back in 2011. Heck, I’m not even sure if any of the five candidates for US Senator have seen the Top 5 Viral Pictures of 1911.
So, who are these guys? Let’s begin with the two Democratic candidates in alphabetical order.
As of yesterday, the Stephen Lynch channel on YouTube had 43 subscribers and 62,792 video views. There is no featured video, but the newest one is entitled, “Message from Stephen Lynch,” and had 1,095 views. Somebody please get this guy a campaign surrogate with a little charisma.
As of yesterday, the Ed Markey channel on YouTube has 67 subscribers and 16,124 video views. The featured video is entitled, “Ed Markey for MA | TV AD: Standing With Us,” and has 296 views. Well, Sara Nelson has got my vote … for the best campaign surrogate.
Now, let’s look at the three Republican candidates.
The Gabriel Gomez channel on YouTube has 72 subscribers and 39,806 video views. There is no featured video, but the newest one is entitled, “Chuck Todd: ‘Democrats Only Focused on Gomez’,” and has 503 views. Is a left-handed endorsement from MSNBC the best you’ve got?
The Mike Sullivan channel on YouTube has 14 subscribers and 5,796 video views. There is no featured video, but the newest one is entitled, “Obama Republican,” and has 2,662 views. Is an attack ad of Gabriel Gomez the best you’ve got?
The Dan Winslow channel on YouTube has 18 subscribers and 11,195 video views. There is no featured video, but the newest one is entitled, “Boston Herald Endorses Dan Winslow,” and has 213 views. Is an endorsement by Howie Carr’s Herald the best you’ve got?
Hey, I know Massachusetts is still dealing with the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. But, most of us voters in the Commonwealth are back to watching the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins. (Okay, watching the Boston Celtics hasn’t been as therapeutic.)
In fact, the best sign that we’re starting “a return to normalcy” can be found in the YouTube Trends Dashboard. The most viewed video on Saturday in Boston, MA, Manchester, NH, was “Justin Pugh Draft Day Phone Call” with 310,656 views.
And the most shared video on Facebook and Twitter on Saturday in Boston, MA, Manchester, NH, was “Cat in a Shark Suit Riding a Roomba and Chasing a Duck.”
Nevertheless, politics is a blood sport in the Bay State. So, it’s curious that nobody is using YouTube effectively in the Massachusetts Senate race.
Now, I wouldn’t blame these five candidates for having fairly rudimentary YouTube channels if they were running for State Senator in, say, the First Suffolk District. But these five candidates are running for US Senator from Massachusetts. And the previous occupants of this particular Senate seat include John Kerry, Paul Tsongas, and Edward Brooke. (Okay, the current occupant is William Maurice “Mo” Cowan, but he had to agree not to run for the seat in order to get the temporary appointment.)
And I wouldn’t blame these five candidates for having pretty primitive YouTube channels if this was April 2007 and nobody had figured out how to use this medium effectively. But it’s April 2013 and their campaign managers can find lots of free advice, basic campaign tools, advanced campaign tools, and case studies at YouTube Politics 101. (Heck, they can even read the second edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day.)
And I wouldn’t blame these five candidates for having incredibly basic YouTube channels if only a handful of voters watched political videos. But according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 55% of registered voters watched political videos online during the 2012 election season.
Pew asked about six different types of political videos and found that, among registered voters who use the internet:
- 48% watch video news reports about the election or politics.
- 40% watch previously recorded videos of candidate speeches, press conferences, or debates.
- 39% watch informational videos online that explain a political issue.
- 37% watch humorous or parody videos dealing with political issues.
- 36% watch political advertisements online.
- 28% watch live videos of candidate speeches, press conferences, or debates.
Pew also found that political videos are highly social. Some 52% of registered voters say that other people had recommended political videos for them to watch the 2012 election season, with social networking sites playing a prominent role in this process. In addition, 19% of registered voters had recommended online political videos for other people to watch.
Who knows? Maybe things will heat up after the primaries on Tuesday. In the meantime, I visited the FiveThirtyEight Blog at NYTimes.com to read Nate Silver’s Political Calculus. His latest post is about how good teams are picking the best players in the N.F.L. Draft. That’s right, even Silver is looking at football, not the Massachusetts Senate race.