YouTube shows have become a secret weapon for emerging politicians

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) somewhere that you might not expect: The Joe Rogan experience. Rogan, a stand-up strip and podcaster, brings guests such as Alex Jones and Elon Musk to his show to talk about everything from simulation theory to DMT. Rogan started the show by asking Sanders if he hates the debate format. "What they are is a reality TV program in which you have to come up with a sound bite, and it is humiliating," Sanders replied. "It's humiliating for the candidates, and it's humiliating for the American people." But unlike the debates, Sanders had all the time he wanted on the podcast – time he used to dive income inequality, health care, and the media in general.


In a press release with reporters after the show, Bernie 2020 campaign advisers explained that the YouTube podcast format itself was one of the main reasons why they wanted Sanders in the Rogan show. “We are looking for opportunities to reach a wider audience. All too often, politicians try to reach people through political channels, ”said senior adviser Jeff Weaver. "It is always good practice to try to reach people outside of the normal political conversation, especially in formats that allow a more free flow and long-lasting answers."

Weaver continued, Sanders "is much more comfortable in that environment."

But it's not just Sanders. Andrew Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) also appeared on YouTube podcasts with some of the platform's most popular creators. All three have appeared on Rogan, while Yang also spoke with conservative commentator Dave Rubin and Ethan and Hila Klein from the H3 Podcast.

It is a relatively new format for YouTube and reflects the style of talk radio programs & # 39; s Howard Stern Show. Instead of spending a few minutes with Chuck Todd or Tucker Carlson on television and rattling talk points, these free, easily accessible YouTube shows enable candidates to talk to someone who feels like a friend to their friends in a relaxed atmosphere audience. That has made YouTube one of the more rewarding places on the internet to campaign.

Part of the benefit is who can reach candidates. According to Politics mood, younger people in brackets 18-29 and 30-44 support Sanders and Yang much more. YouTube claims to reach more of those voters in an average week than any cable network put together, citing Nielsen data. By 2020, those age categories (millennials combined with GenZ, roughly) will be the largest voting block in America.

Then there is the simple math of public and duration. Podcasts such as The Joe Rogan experience and H3 reach millions of people every week and usually last around an hour. That is more broadcasting time than any candidate traditionally receives at the debate, on Sunday morning news shows or even in blips in popular talk shows on television. Bernie's appearance on Rogan even competed with the CNN Democratic debate in terms of viewers. According to Variety, brought in the second evening of the debates 8.7 million viewers, only a few hundred thousand more viewers than the Rogan show.


The H3 Podcast has become a home for the public to catch up on both current events and internet dofs in a varied show format, far removed from the dry urgency of cable news. Sanders of Yang & # 39; s willingness to go on that kind of creator-driven platform could give them an atmosphere of authenticity with viewers, which is an increasingly rare product for campaigns.

Until now, those interviews are still the exception to the rule. The majority of democratic candidates in 2020 spend most of their time on traditional television and radio interviews. Candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) already have political influence and have no problems getting an interview about The view or Meet the press.

But for less well-known candidates, peripheral media can be a powerful boost. Andrew Yang's first major interview came on Joe Rogan's podcast last February. The Joe Rogan experienceThe channel has more than 6 million subscribers and the Yang episode surpassed one million views just days after it was uploaded to YouTube. Then Yang's political profile rose. In a blog post after the show started, Yang said the campaign received "thousands of new supporters" and "tens of thousands of new donations" after the appearance.

"A friend of mine joked that there will be a" BR (Before Rogan) "and" AR (After Rogan) "phase of the campaign," wrote Yang. "He's probably right."

He was. After Rogan, Yang quickly qualified for the summer debates. After months of lurking in alternative media such as the Rogan show and The Rubin report, more regular points of sale started contacting for interviews, and his survey went up.

As the autumn debates approached with even more challenging polling and donor requirements, Yang needed a new impulse to qualify. Earlier this month he went on the H3 Podcast. It was again a long-standing campaign platform discussion, but with two immensely popular makers with more than 8 million subscribers through their two channels.

That same week, Sanders had his first YouTube appearance in this election cycle with Rogan. In the few days since the episode is over, it has received more than 8.5 million views, and the reactions are full of praise for Sanders, which is surprising for a podcast with a largely right-wing audience. In addition to podcasts, Sanders and his staff have appeared on Twitch streams as a new way to reach younger voters where they are.


“Whether it's on a maker's channel or on their own social channels, candidates must find the right balance between the appearance of an interesting or unexpected place, but in a way that is authentic to who they are and how their audience sees them. Joanna Rosholm, Michelle Obama & # 39; s former press secretary and deputy director of communications The edge. "What works for one candidate or political figure may not work for the other."

"Millennials have an incredible reading about authenticity," she continued.

It is part of a greater trend in political communication, as the media options broaden and candidates are forced to find more specific channels to find an audience. During the end of the last century, television was king and it was easy for candidates to appear in a handful of news shows and reach millions of people. As cable television became more popular and the audience grew more niche, candidates began to visit a wider range of non-political shows, to promote their authenticity and to promote themselves as not just solid politicians, but real people.

In particular, former President Bill Clinton benefited from that trend appear on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992 in an appearance that "blew people away," Rosholm said. "It opened the door for candidates to focus less on news media – where they would be covered anyway – and instead go directly to younger voters in an unexpected but authentic way."

In the course of the last few presidential elections, candidates regularly appeared on shows such as The view, Ellen, Steve Harveyand Saturday night Live to spread their campaigns and spread their messages to voters. These shows had a smaller (although still large) audience with specific demographic breakdowns. If you wanted to reach middle-aged women, go talk to Ellen DeGeneres. But that trend inevitably led to candidates for smaller and more personal channels, such as the ones on YouTube. In 2014, President Obama gave YouTube his own Arsenio moment when he appeared The YouTube channel of Funny or Die in a Between two ferns interview with Zach Galifianakis.


“TV once made for a more focused audience. Before cable TV grew in popularity, you could have an audience in the tens of millions – there was less content to contend with. More people looked fewer things, & Rosholm told The edge. "Today's content is unlimited and geared towards a niche audience, which means that you will see more job interviews than ever to cover as much land as possible." If candidates really want to cover that, they should go on YouTube.