Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd is the latest candidate to use YouTube to spread his message to voters. On June 27, the Dodd campaign released a 2:25 minute video in which Senator Dodd asks voters to support the Dodd Amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, which would begin redeployment of U.S. troops 30 days after the bill is enacted and would supply no additional war funding after March 31, 2008. Dodd also suggests that viewers contact their senators to encourage them to vote for the Dodd Amendment and further asks that viewers post their discussions with the senators to YouTube.
In the “Change the Debate” video, Dodd discusses the media’s fixation on less “important” issues, such as John Edwards’ haircuts, Hillary Clinton’s campaign song, and the popular Obama girl video. Dodd tells viewers that Americans can bypass the “media filter” by using the internet to discuss today’s important issues. Dodd’s comments regarding the media may indeed be in touch with today’s voters as recent studies by the Pew Research Center show that Americans are looking for better Iraq War and election media coverage.
Dodd’s “Change the Debate” video has received over 340,000 views in the two weeks since it was posted to YouTube. In comparison, Hillary Clinton’s “I Need Your Advice” video has received over 620,000 views in one month. Barack Obama’s and John Edwards’ highest viewed official videos received over 548,000 and 372,000 views respectively.
Not all presidential candidates are using the internet platform to increase their exposure. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani’s highest viewed official YouTube video received only 49,000 views and the most viewed article on his website received a paltry 2,400 views in three months . In comparison, Mitt Romney’s highest viewed video received over 450,000 views, John McCain’s highest viewed video received over 300,000 views, and internet phenomenon Ron Paul’s highest viewed video received 260,000 views.
According to a recent study, candidates should not ignore the internet as a way to gain votes. The Pew Research Center found 15% of voters rely on the internet as their primary source of political information, with this number increasing as internet reach expands. This may especially help the candidates who are not front runners as the majority of voters (54%) say that they are seeking additional information regarding candidates who are not considered to be poll leaders.