Election ’06: MySpace/YouTube Effect on NJ Races

kean.jpgA quick video clip featuring Republican NJ Senate candidate Tom Kean ducking away from an Iraq soldier’s mom has been viewed over 43,000 times on YouTube. It was posted by the camp of his Democratic rival and current interim Senator Bob Menendez.

Just how much this sort of thing will affect voter decisions remains to be seen.

According to a NorthJersey.com story (from The Bergen Record?), “It marks the second time in the hotly contested Senate race that the camera work of Patrick McKenna has taken center stage. The 25-year-old Menendez operative works as a ‘tracker’ and follows Kean at campaign events, which he films with a $200 handheld video camera.”

Such folks are becoming campaign fixtures this year as online video viewing and free hosting proliferates. (Check out this entertaining piece on the subject from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal).

As seen on NJ.com, The Star Ledger has another great story about local Jersey candidates using MySpace, or not.

Chris Adornato, Independent candidate for Mayor of Woodbridge (that seat was once held by our upstanding ex-guv, Jim McGreevy, by the way), has dived head first into the world of MySpace campaigning, even employing an automated MySpace friend-adding software to send friend requests to voter-age users in Woodbridge based on zip code.

According to the story, “Once he has all those friends, Adornato writes comments on their pages so their friends can read them.”

The 29-year-old Adornato was quoted as saying he’d met eight people while door-to-door campaigning recently who recognized him as “the guy on MySpace.”

I’m trying to decide whether this automated MySpace approach would bug me or intrigue me. I have to say that I am impressed by local candidates who have a Web presence of any kind since in the past they’ve been so few and far between when it comes to Jersey City or Hudson Country pols. Still, there are few people I don’t know who I’ve added as MySpace friends, and I’d have to feel really good about a political candidate to do that.

Again, my biggest question this year about the usage of social networking tools and YouTube in political campaigns is how will this affect voters? Can this sort of thing really sway somebody, much less get him out to the polls if he wasn’t planning to already?

To use the recent Kean video example, I’d venture to guess that viewing a clip that highlights the weakness or evasiveness of a candidate (which this intends to do) could certainly sway a voter who’s on the fence. This is a super-tight race, even in Blue Jersey, so I suppose every little bit helps/hinders.

Still, I’m inclined to believe the majority of people viewing this sort of stuff, or on MySpace, are a.) not going to vote or b.) already decided voters.

Consider this comment on Adornato’s MySpace page: “dude you should def put a skatepark in colonia if you are voted…if i was old enough to vote id def vote for you man”.

Ahhh…the future leaders (and voters) of America…..

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