Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer: the YouTube wars

Mark Udall as seen in an anti-Udall ad.

YouTube has been an important battleground in elections for a while now, but never more so than this year, when politicians such as senatorial opponents Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer, aided by an army of surrogates, fight to populate the site with positive messages about themselves and negative broadsides aimed at their opponent.

One way of quantifying their success in this battle is by counting the number of pro or con videos delivered by a search for a given candidate's name. Using one measure, Udall was winning the contest as of September 4 -- but by another, Schaffer actually held a narrow lead.

A YouTube search brings up twenty videos per page, with the criterion preset at "relevance," as opposed to "date added," "view count" or "rating." On September 4, the first twenty offerings located by searching for "Mark Udall" broke down as follows: eleven up-with-Udall efforts, eight downers and one item that qualifies as neutral. In contrast, a search for "Bob Schaffer" racked up eight pro-Schaffer clips as opposed to ten attack jobs and two neutral submissions.

So Udall takes the prize? Not quite. Four of the initial five videos in the "Mark Udall" search were negative, as opposed to three of five in a "Bob Schaffer" search. Hence, Schaffer's forces scored the earliest flurry of body blows.

Here's a sampling of clips located by the searches -- two positive and two negative for each candidate. YouTube über alles. -- Michael Roberts

A Udall commercial:

The Schaffer commercial YouTube judged most relevant on September 4:

An elaborate anti-Udall assault:

A highly produced punch to Schaffer's jaw:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts