YouTube videos are playing a significant role in the UK general election, which will be held on May 7, 2015, as well as the first month of the presidential election in the United States, which won’t be held until Nov. 8, 2016.
And despite the fact that Barack Obama’s name won’t be on the ballot in either election, the Obama for America (OFA) campaign’s successful use of the video-sharing site to help win the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections in the U.S. has created the de facto benchmark against which only one of the best political YouTube videos from both sides of the pond is currently in a position to surpass.
U.S. Politics and YouTube Engagement
The Gold Standard of political YouTube channels is BarackObama.com, the official OFA YouTube channel. The 3,035 videos have a total of 296.9 million views and the channel has 533,000 subscribers. The most popular video on the channel, which was published 7 years ago, is “Barack Obama on Ellen,” which has 13.2 million views, and according to YouTube analysts TubularLabs has 32,000 YouTube engagements, 45,000 Facebook shares, and 2,424 tweets.
And there are another five videos on the BarackObama.com channel which have more than 5 million views apiece, including: “Barack Obama: “I’m Really Proud of All of You” from 2 years ago with 9.3 million views; “Obama Speech: ‘A More Perfect Union’” from 7 years ago with 7.2 million views; “President-Elect Barack Obama in Chicago” from 6 years ago with 5.9 million views; “Barack Obama: Yes We Can” from 7 years ago with 5.4 million views; and “Will Farrell Will Do Anything to Get You To Vote” from 2 years ago with 5.0 million views.
The only political YouTube video that comes close to these OFA videos was published just last week by the first Democratic candidate to officially announce her candidacy for president. It is on the Hillary Clinton channel, which now has 22,000 subscribers. The video, “Getting Started,” already has 4.2 million views, 40,000 YouTube engagements, 3,999 Facebook shares, and 32,000 tweets.
In the last 30 days, Mrs Clinton’s ‘Getting Started’ campaign kick-off video also generated 2.7M+ views on Facebook. The Saturday Night Skit (aired just a couple of days before the official announcement) was also a huge hit on YouTube, with 2.5M views.
By comparison, the most popular video on the Ted Cruz channel, which has 5,838 subscribers, is entitled “Blessing.” The video from the first Republican candidate to officially announce his candidacy for president has 378,000 views, 4,742 YouTube engagements, 1,139 Facebook shares, and 1,785 tweets.
Meanwhile, the most popular video on the Rand Paul channel, which has 3,792 subscribers, is entitled “Defeat the Washington Machine.” The video from the second Republican candidate to officially announce his candidacy for president has 277,000 views, 8 YouTube engagements, 311 Facebook shares, and 407 tweets.
And the most popular recent video on the Marco Rubio channel, which has 3,038 subscribers, is entitled “Marco Rubio: A New American Century.” The video from the third Republican candidate to throw his hat in the ring has 23,000 views, 278 YouTube engagements, 164 Facebook shares, and 732 tweets.
It’s worth noting that 3 other Democrats and 9 other Republicans are testing the waters. So, it’s still early days for the 2016 presidential election in the U.S.
U.K. General Election and YouTube
In contrast, the general election in the U.K. is in the home stretch. And unlike the U.S., the YouTube channels in the U.K. feature the major political parties, not the candidates for Prime Minister, because voters in each constituency in the U.K. elects one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons using the “first past the post” system.
If one party obtains a majority of seats, then that party is entitled to form the Government. If the election results in no single party having a majority, as it did in 2010, then there is a “hung parliament.” In this case, the options for forming the Government are either a coalition government, which is what the U.K. currently has, or a minority government.
The Conservatives channel in the U.K., which was created in October 2006, currently has 5,296,284 views and 12,969 subscribers. The most popular video on the channel is entitled “David Cameron: A very Happy Easter to you and your family,” which has 490,000 views, no comments (because they are disabled), 3,342 Facebook shares, and 2,684 tweets.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party channel, which was created in February 2007, currently has 4,203,678 views and 10,212 subscribers. The most popular video on the channel is entitled “David Cameron’s Facebook Movie,” which has 659,000 views, 4,269 YouTube engagements, 12,000 Facebook shares, and 3,516 tweets.
There are also five other parties in the U.K. that could play a significant role if the 2015 general election produces another hung parliament: The Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party (SNP), , the Greens, and Welsh Nationalists Plaid Cymru (PC).
Now, comparing political YouTube channels in the U.S. and U.K. may seem like comparing apples and oranges, but consider this: Jim Messina, who served as the campaign manager for Obama’s successful re-election campaign in 2012 is now also a senior adviser to the Conservative Party in the U.K. And David Axelrod, a chief campaign advisor to Barack Obama during the campaign for the presidency in 2008 is currently a senior strategic adviser to the Labour Party in the U.K.
So, how would you compare political YouTube videos from both sides of the pond? Well, about 129,235,000 people voted in the 2012 presidential elections in the U.S., while about 29,991,000 people voted in the 2010 general election in the U.K. So, there are 4.3 times more voters in America than there are in Great Britain.
If you multiply the views that the most popular video on the Conservatives channel has by 4.3, then you’d get approximately 2.1 million views. So, even adjusting for the difference in turnout, the “Getting Started” on the Hillary Clinton channel is the only one of the most popular videos on both sides of the pond to come close to the popularity of the top six videos on the BarackObama.com channel – and her campaign has accomplish that in just a week.