Sunday, November 12, 2006

YouTube Wins Senate for the Democrats

With Virginia Senator George Allen Jr.'s concession last week, the Democrats regained control of the Senate for the first time in 12 years. But as much as the Dems should thank Jim Webb, Allen's opponent, the real victor in this campaign was YouTube.

Months before the election Allen was riding high in the polls and was even touted as a potential Presidential candidate for '08. Then came the notorious "Macaca" video in which Allen made fun of an Indian member of the audience, which happened to be captured on video. In elections past this video might have been shared among a few people for laughs, but 2006 marked the "YouTube-ization" of American politics.

Within days of the video being posted to YouTube, tens of thousands of people around the country had viewed it, and the buzz started to build. A week later the video was picked up by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, then by the mainstream media, and soon everyone knew of Senator Macaca.

Allen's campaign began to implode, culminating in his concession on Wednesday, handing the Senate to the Democrats. A sea change in American politics was brought about by one short video posted to one website and then broadcast to millions.