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More Governors Use YouTube, But Few Manage to Get Our Attention

jan brewer's youtube channel
When they're not busy making our world a better place, most state politicians spend their time reaching out to the voters who elected them, and promoting their agendas to the public. Instead of stumping at school gymnasiums or shooting TV commercials, though, many state governors have begun flocking to YouTube -- albeit with mixed results.

According to USA Today, at least 38 governors currently have their own videos posted on YouTube, including nine who just began posting videos on the site this year. Nine other governors, meanwhile, have posted videos on other public platforms or government websites. As you'd expect, some use YouTube to spread campaign ads, while others, like Rick Perry of Texas, simply post videos of recent speeches, statements or interviews. And, unlike virtually everything else on Capitol Hill, the viral video seems to be something both Republicans and Democrats can support. Of the 38 governors who have gone viral, 17 are Republicans, 20 are Democrats, and one (Florida's Charlie Crist) is an independent.

In addition to allowing politicians to reach a larger online audience, YouTube gives governors something they often don't have in the media: control. "They don't have to worry that the newsroom is going to slice up their video package with only the juiciest quote," Arnold Shober, assistant professor of government at Lawrence University, told USA Today. "This gives candidates a lot more control over their message." The only obstacle, of course, is making sure that constituents actually see their videos.

So far, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer seems to have garnered the most attention on YouTube, thanks to a video in which she excoriates President Obama over illegal immigration. That video has accumulated more than a million views in five months, but most other gubernatorial videos haven't even come close to that kind of attention. Many, in fact, have yet to break even triple, or, in some cases, double digits.

Ultimately, though, viral popularity (or lack thereof) is unlikely to deter state leaders from spreading their messages online. Rachel Reeves, a spokesman for Kansas Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson, says that even if political videos don't get a whole lot of attention, they can still help constituents engage with their leaders, and feel as if they're closer to the governing process. "Maybe we don't get as many hits," Reeves acknowledges. "But it's important to reach out to them."

Tags: campaign, Charlie Crist, CharlieCrist, Democrats, governor, independent, jan brewer, JanBrewer, politicians, politics, republicans, rick perry, RickPerry, top, video, youtube