Is Barack Obama Getting His Online Mojo Back? This Video May Be the Key
BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 23 2012
Is Barack Obama getting his online mojo back? Maybe. On Saturday, August 18th, his campaign uploaded a new video to his YouTube channel titled, "We've Come Too Far to Turn Back Now," and began promoting it with a series of emails whose subject lines were far different from the plaintive appeals for donations that have become all too familiar to anyone on his giant list.
"This video gave me the chills," read the subject line from Jen O'Malley Dillon, the deputy campaign manager. "This video, right here, explains why I'm working day in and day out to win this election. When the hours are long and the fight is hard, I know that what we're doing will make a real difference in people's lives."
It was a blatant play to readers' heartstrings, and judging from the video's YouTube stats, the message is resonating. As of this writing, it's gotten more than 845,000 views, with nearly half of those, 320,000, coming in the last two days, several days after the video was launched. (By comparison, the Romney campaign's most popular recent video, introducing "America's Comeback Team," had 242,000 new views in the last two days, one-sixth of its total since Paul Ryan was added to the ticket and this video was uploaded August 12th.) The Obama campaign has uploaded 45 videos in the month of August, and none of them are doing as well as this one, not even close.
In general, Obama's audience on YouTube has been consistently larger than Romney's all year, as this week-by-week tracking chart shows.
There are two other videos that have also garnered a big audience for Obama this summer--a one-minute TV ad called "The Choice" which aired heavily during the Olympics, and a response to Paul Ryan's addition to the Republican ticket. The former of those has 2.7 million views; the latter has garnered 1.2 million so far.
But I would argue that this new one is different, and not just because it's not a TV ad attacking his Republican opponents. "We've Come Too Far" is a direct play at reviving the "movement" tone of 2008. Built around the 360-word, two-and-a-half minute climax of a campaign speech that he gave recently in Colorado, its theme is "Thanks to you, we've made a difference in people's lives," as Obama declares. "No one in the wealthiest nation on earth should go broke because they get sick. Nobody should have to tell their daughters or sons the decisions they can and cannot make for themselves are constrained because of some politicians in Washington." The camera lingers subtly over the faces of people nodding with him.
Obama's challenge in this cycle isn't to be the "change" candidate; it's to be the "keep going in this direction" candidate. To the degree that this new video is being watched and shared, that may be a hint of people "coming home" to Obama after months, even years, of the growing disconnect between their hopes and the reality of his time in office. We shall see.