Did YouTube win the Senate for the Democrats?

November 14, 2006

News:  Scarborough had an interesting discussion about the role Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert played in the 2006 elections.  The discussion soon devolved into a debate about how much influence YouTube had in the Democrats winning the Senate races in Montana and Virginia. 

During the campaign, Senator Allen in Virginia got caught on video calling a Webb volunteer who was of Indian descent a “macaca,” which means a kind of monkey.  Senator Burns was caught on video several times saying that we should be worried about enemies “who drive taxi cabs during the day” and who kill at night.  Burns was also caught nearly falling asleep during an agricultural committee hearing.

Analysis:   Senator Allen’s double digit lead soon evaporated after the “macaca” incident, so there’s probably little doubt the incident seriously hurt his campaign.  I didn’t follow the Burns campaign as closely, but will check to see if I can find any numbers from his campaign. 

As far as YouTube’s role in all this, the Allen “macaca” video did generate over 400,000 hits (in today’s count), so in an election that Jim Webb won by fewer than 9,000 votes, the video probably did matter.  To the extent YouTube gave people access to the video, it probably had an effect on the election.