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YouTube Likes Become New Front in Republican Primary's Ad War

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, December 9 2011

MoveOn.org has been urging its supporters to click "dislike" on the Rick Perry "Strong" ad, a video released earlier this week in which the Texas governor and presidential candidate emphasizes his Christian faith and opposition to gay rights. The organization hopes to drive one million negative clicks by tonight; at the start of the campaign, the video already had more dislikes than likes.

When she first saw the video, MoveOn Media Chief Angie Aker said that given what she called his "egregious" comments, "I was reluctant to help him raise his profile." But then MoveOn creative director Laura Dawn brought it up again and convinced her of the idea to do a "dislike" campaign.

"That has a different purpose than this guy is saying something we really don't agree with. Getting to people to pile on and dislike it felt more purposeful," she said. She said it was the first time that MoveOn's media project, which is 11 months old, sent its supporters to another site with such a specific call to action. Aker said that MoveOn had sent 10,000 users to the Youtube link. She called the popularity of the ad a testimony to how the public feels about gay rights, and said she didn't think the Perry campaign expected the reaction.

The video, which as been viewed over three million times, and was originally intended for Iowa Caucus voters, is an illustration of how the state-by-state campaign and primary season has been eclipsed by the web, since videos intended for one audience are instantly available around the country and around the world. The original Perry ad is not only the most popular video in the Des Moines-Ames, IA region, but is also the most popular video around the country, the New York City area and the United Kingdom, according to YouTube trends. A parody ad is the third most popular YouTube video in the U.S. YouTube statistics show that links to the video have been coming from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, the Huffington Post, Tumblr, Buzzfeed as well as the search query "rick perry strong." The statistics on the video also show users watching from Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.

The video has 11,0121 likes to 449,884 dislikes.

The ad was also mocked mocked on The Colbert Report, the Houston Chronicle reported — and the Perry campaign seems to have learned its lesson as a result. His new ad criticizing Barack Obama's health care reform plans was posted on Youtube without the like/dislike function.

On Facebook, though, his campaign he posted, "Can we get 7,000 LIKES to repeal Obamacare?!" (The post, which was shared 22 hours ago, only has 5,281 likes).

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