What YouTube reveals about the presidential election

YouTube serves as the online media headquarters for most political campaigns nowadays. Although not everything posted to YouTube by a campaign is guaranteed to hit the airwaves, the videos and TV ads posted online do reflect the general tone of the election.  

A simple survey of all the political ads uploaded by candidates, PACs and issue groups for this year’s presidential election reveals that over half (56 percent) of the ads to date have been negative, thanks largely to the PACs and political issue groups willing to do the dirty work for campaigns. 

While the negative tone shouldn’t necessarily be all that surprising, it’s worth noting that we have yet to see any of these outside groups run a single positive ad for either of the candidates.

Of the remaining ads, 37 percent of all ads have been positive and the other 7 percent we’ll characterize as contrast ads, which are more negative in nature.

The 69 different negative ads uploaded to YouTube so far have been pretty evenly split in attacking both Mitt Romney and President Obama; 38 spots have been anti-Obama and 31 spots have been anti-Romney. 

Crossroads GPS has been the biggest contributor to the anti-Obama spots, uploading 11 anti-Obama spots since December 2011. Next in line is the Romney campaign, producing 10 anti-Obama spots in the general election. 

Romney is followed by Americans for Prosperity (4 anti-Obama spots), the Republican National Committee (4 anti-Obama spots), Restore Our Future PAC (3 anti-Obama spots), and American Crossroads (2 anti-Obama spots).

Barack Obama has been the biggest contributor of the anti-Romney spots, making 20 of them to date.  Next in line is Priorities USA, producing 8 anti-Romney spots. They are followed by MoveOn.org (2 anti-Romney spots) and Planned Parenthood (1 anti-Romney spot).

One thing to note: this info is based solely upon the broadcast-worthy ads uploaded to the YouTube pages of each candidate, PAC or issue group. It is not indicative of which ads have gained actual air time. 

You can check out all of the general election presidential spots here.

Sarah Stone is a research analyst with Smart Media Group. She specializes in tracking campaign spending for SMG’s clients. When she’s not analyzing the competition’s political spending, she assists with building media plans and functions as the firm’s resident cartographer. 

A  version of this post was also published on Smart Media Group’s blog, Smart Blog.


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