Monday, July 30, 2007

GOP To Boycott YouTube Debate?

Why is it the GOP candidates for President are unwilling to participate in the YouTube/CNN debate?

Despite some claims that it was a failed experiment, the facts show that viewership was quite large among the 18-34 age group -- the highest ever since audience measurements began in 1992.

Details about YouTube also show that a larger percentage of users who express a preference are Republicans -- some 3.5 million self-identified Republicans, 3.1 million self-identified Democrats, and about 5 million who call themselves Independent. This via techPresident, who goes on to write:

Seriously, I really haven't noticed a hugely disproportionate difference between the number of liberals and the number of conservatives on YouTube... I really haven't seen evidence that one is far and away more present than the other.

As a side note, who wants to join me in predicting that the Republican debate will get more video question submissions than the Democratic debate did? The Dem one attracted 2989 submissions. The GOP one already has 149 entries and they only opened it up on Tuesday. And they have until September. Now that people saw how neat the Dem one is, there are sure to be plenty more people uploading videos for the Republican one, although I'm not sure about whether or not this would be an indication of there necessarily being more people on YouTube who are Republican than Democrat-- probably more an indication of the greater exposure this format has attracted.

Also as an aside, I'm willing to bet that a significant chunk of the questions submitted are submitted by people who aren't YouTube users. That is, people who signed up for an account just so they could participate but haven't been active on YouTube before, for instance the Reverend who asked the gay marriage question in the Democratic debate only signed up for an account after a member of his congregation heard about the debate and thought it'd be a good opportunity. The majority of question-askers are undoubtedly regular YouTube users, but there's probably also a substantial chunk of submitters that are using the site for the first time.

There's no doubt that CNN was using YouTube to show off how CNN is kinda hip and tech savvy. But both the users and viewers of YouTube gained much in the process too. Hard core negativists, like Rush Limbaugh offered his view (via Beltway Blogroll):

Above all else, this is a show. CNN is in this for ratings. They’re not going to turn over the all-important questions to these candidates to a bunch of dingbats who don’t know what they’re doing. ... The YouTube business is nothing more than the latest attempt by the Democrats and the media to extend the youth vote to the Democrat Party.

Yeah, how evil to expand awareness and engage younger voters.It must be a Satanic Liberal Conspiracy.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow says President Bush isn't "big on YouTube debates." What does that matter since he isn't a candidate? Does he just want to issue some marching orders to GOP candidates?

Talks are underway to perhaps reschedule the GOP event. But the Florida state Republicans are adamant to have the event take place:

It is also evidence of Florida's growing and prominent role in the 2008 presidential election cycle, and we are excited to partner with the campaigns, CNN, and YouTube to bring the Republican presidential candidates to viewers across America."

I think if only two candidates, Sen. John McCain and Ron Paul, both who say they'd participate, are the only ones who show up, then I say go ahead and air the debate. Those who avoid it will speak volumes by their silence.

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