Which YouTube video had the greatest impact on the outcome of the 2008 election?
While Shirky may be correct about this video's impact on "mobilizing the base," data generated for the Political Video Barometer shows that "Dear Mr. Obama," a pro-McCain video, had little reach to "swing the undecided." Of the 639 blog posts that referenced the video, 364 of the posts (57%) were from conservative bloggers - reinforcing the beliefs of the right-wing base.
The top five political videos (those that were clearly focused on the election AND had at least 90 links from political bloggers) that had the largest reach outside of either candidate's base were all pro-Obama videos with strong popular culture themes.
- Yes We Can - Barack Obama Music Video
14,379,890 views, 404 blog posts, 293 non-liberal/conservative blog posts (73%)
- Wassup 2008
5,300,606 views, 665 blog posts, 424 non-liberal/conservative blog posts (64%)
- I Got a Crush...On Obama By Obama Girl
12,278,288 views, 259 blog posts, 164 non-liberal/conservative blog posts (63%)
- Barack Roll
2,858,259 views, 263 blog posts, 163 non-liberal/conservative blog posts (62%)
- American Stories, American Solutions: 30 Minute Special
1,932,787 views, 547 blog posts, 314 non-liberal/conservative blog posts (57%)
Clearly, there are many different ways to measure success, but the data seems to suggest that if you want to make a video to reach an audience outside of your base then lead with music, borrow from pop culture and include a positive message.
My vote for the single most impactful video goes to "Yes We Can - Barack Obama Music Video." Why? It had the most views, the highest percentage of blog links that represented neither the liberal nor conservative usual suspects and mobilized the base and beyond.