Category Archives: Political Figures

The Top Politicians on YouTube

By Becky Hogan

YouTube has close to one billion unique viewers each month—making it a great way for politicians to reach constituents via video.

Not only is the video-sharing site a way for politicians to extend the news cycle and share video clips of press appearances and interviews, it’s also a means to reach followers in just seconds with the click of a button, before sharing views with the media.

Of course, it’s also widely used to disseminate campaign ads during elections in the hope that they will go viral.

And with YouTube moving to become a news platform with its live streaming feature, it’s becoming even more relevant to politics.  In April, YouTube announced that it would give live streaming capabilities to all US Congress members after thousands tuned in to YouTube to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address and the corresponding Republican response this February.

We took a look at our data to see which U.S. politicians have the most subscribed-to YouTube channels.


It’s an interesting mix on both Democrats and Republicans, mostly from the House or Senate.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the only governor to make our list.  President Obama has 16 times the subscribers that Senator Rand Paul.

How are these lawmakers YouTube-ing most recently?

Representative Chris Van Hollen became a YouTube hit during the government shutdown for a video he posted called  “The GOP’s little rule change they hoped you wouldn’t notice” which calls attention  to the House of Representatives’ rules regarding a bill to avoid the government shutdown. This flew under the radar for nearly two weeks until Van Hollen posted his video. The video has since surpassed 3.4 million views.

Last week,  President Obama tried to rev up his political supporters by sending a YouTube video to members of his political arm, Organizing for Action,  to ask for help in registering people for health insurance.  Monday, former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal endorsed Governor Christie via YouTube just days before his election against Barbara Buono. Senator Warren’s remarks on the government shutdown a few weeks ago have received over 1.4 million views.  And Ted Cruz has already posted 6 videos to his channel within the past week … all of them are about Obamacare.


Palin Ignites Buzz on Obamacare, Just Sayin’

Sarah Palin

By Becky Hogan

Former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin posted a new video to her YouTube, Twitter and Facebook accounts on Monday called “Just Sayin’.” The video features clips of the media talking about Palin’s warning about “death panels” under the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, starting that Palin was right all along.

Palin posted the video to Facebook with the message, “Enough of this foreign fiasco distraction. Get back to work. It is time to bomb Obamacare.”

The video seems to be Palin’s latest attempt to get the conversation about Obamacare back on the radar ahead of President Obama’s public address on Syria.

In the two days since the video was posted online, Palin has racked up a ton on buzz on Twitter and Facebook—not to mention 108,249 views of the video on YouTube:

  • 1,040 new Twitter Followers
  • 6,390 Likes on her Facebook page
  • 268,518 Facebook Talked Abouts

There’s no question that the national conversation on Syria has supplanted any conversation about repealing Obamacare.

The TrendPo rankings show that the Affordable Care Act was gaining a lot of momentum in August, while Tea Party Republicans led “Defund Obamacare” efforts during the August recess.

Defund Obamacare Efforts Gain Steam

But if there’s anyone who can change the conversation quickly, it’s probably Sarah Palin.  Ironically, her latest video seems to be as much an attempt to show she’s been vindicated on her death panel theory as it is a celebration of the media attention she’s drawn for the comment.

We should note, the Affordable Care Act has seen a slight jump in the rankings since she posted the video.

Looking at Sarah Palin’s national media attention compared to news about the Affordable Care Act over the past month, there’s been a clear correlation in upticks of news mentions on Palin and mentions of Obamacare.

Palin's Media Attention

The video comes after a recent wave of Democrats who have signed on to her death panel theory. The term “death panel” refers to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a government panel that can determine some Medicare payments rates.  Palin has stated that the Advisory Board will be able to decide who receives care versus who does not.

According to The Hill, vulnerable Democrats signed on to bills repealing the board’s powers, including Senator Mark Pryor and Representatives Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema,  and Elizabeth Esty.

While Palin has always been a critic of the new health care law, she officially signed on to the ‘Defund Obamacare’ movement in late August.  And since that time she’s seen a flood of support on social media.

Palin's August Gains

But it appears this is just the beginning of Palin’s rabble-rousing on the issue.  The video ends with the words “to be continued…sadly.”

We’ll keep watching to see how Palin uses social media to call for Obamcare’s demise.

Social Media Mocks Arguments for Intervention in Syria


The Obama administration’s push for a Congressional vote on Syria is dominating the news cycle. While both sides have passionate defenders, the world of satire is clearly on the anti-war side.

First, an Official in the Obama administration made news after a statement arguing that “If Assad is eating Cheerios, we’re going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he’ll still be able to eat Cheerios.”

Twitter immediately picked up on the comment, with commentators mocking the cheerio metaphor.


John Kerry also got his share of Twitter ridicule after saying the strikes on Syria would be “incredibly small.” John McCain responded incredibly quickly.

Philip Klein, a senior writer for the Washington Examiner, got in on the action as well.

Erik Erikson, a conservative blogger and Editor-In-Chief for was also quick to comment.

Even Comedy Central got a tweet in.

That’s not to say off the cuff remarks haven’t played a positive role in the Syria crisis. When Kerry was asked if there was a diplomatic solution, he responded “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week…without delay and allow the full and total accounting for that, but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done, obviously.” In a strange twist, that seems like a possibility now after Russian President Vladimir Putin backed the plan and the Syran government claimed to welcome the initiative.

The funny side of social media often reflects the public’s attitude. Will Twitter’s amateur comedians change their tune if the crisis subsides? We’ll keep an eye out as the situation develops.

Social Media Works In The Background of Syrian Civil War


President Obama’s unexpected announcement that he would seek a vote from Congress on action in Syria has completely dominated traditional and social media this week. President Obama saw a rare drop in TrendPo rank, moving to #2 behind Syria. The top issues and people all revolve around Syria this week – the top ten list includes John Kerry, John McCain, Israel, National Security and the United Nations.

People and issue that directly involve Syria have seen big jumps in national media coverage – this isn’t particularly surprising considering the possibility of military intervention abroad.


The most interesting new development is the increasing role of social media in the conflict. Opponents of a potential strike on Syria, both foreign and domestic, have used social media to spread their message. The Armed Forces Tea Party page has been posting pictures of uniformed armed services members with anti-war signs. Most of the posts have received a few thousand likes and shares, such as the one below.


The Syrian Electronic Army, a group of pro-Syrian government hackers, managed to redirect visitors to a Marine Corps recruitment website to a page using the same pictures.


At the same time, since the beginning of the civil war rebel groups have taken advantage of social media to make their case. Video of the poison gas attack that started the war debate in the US were initially released on social media. This was followed by dozens of homemade videos of victims of the attack. Opposition supporters worked to spread the videos on social media – while not the primary reason, the free availability of the videos put pressure on the Obama administration to act and contributed to intelligence gathering.

The opposition has been active on social media, with an active YouTube, Facebook and Twitter presence intended to share their arguments with the outside world. During last year’s shelling of Homs in Western Syria, opposition activists posted live pictures and video as part of an outreach effort.

As the United States’ role in Syria becomes more defined, we expect to see more efforts to influence public opinion from both the Government and the Opposition.

Who’s Saying What on Syria

By Becky Hogan

News that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons last week to kill an estimated 1,300 civilians has been dominating news coverage since last week. And just like that the violence in Egypt is talking second fiddle to the crisis in Syria as–both in the TrendPo Rankings and in current US foreign policy priorities.  The ensuing debate is over whether the United States should intervene militarily in Syria has drawn a varied response from Democrats and the GOP.

Media Surge on Syria

The issue is undoubtedly a complicated one.  President Obama called the use of large-scale chemical weapons in Syria a “red line” last year, and many believe that US military action in Syria is critical to signal that the US is serious that chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction cannot be used in Syria or elsewhere.

We’re recapping who’s saying what on Syria.


On Monday Secretary of State spoke out against the Syrian attack, calling is a moral obscenity.

“Make no mistake,” Kerry said. “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapon against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny.”


Vice President Joe Biden reinforced Kerry’s statements yesterday saying that there’s “no doubt” that the regime of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in an attack last week outside Damascus.

“There is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons, the Syrian regime  … Chemical weapons have been used. Everyone acknowledges their use. No one doubts that innocent men, women and children have been the victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.”


Russia has pushed back saying there is no evidence of whether a chemical weapons attack has taken place in Syria or who is responsible.

In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and  British Prime Minister David Cameron  spoke on a phone call Monday. Of the phone conversation, British government spokesman said, “President Putin said that they did not have evidence of whether a chemical weapons attack had taken place or who was responsible.”

While Russia’s reaction has gotten a lot of media attention in the past week, Kerry’s comments have dominated national new coverage.

Interestingly, it’s Biden who has been buzzing the most on social media since his statements. Perhaps Biden’s statements attracted more attention because they provided a more definitive statement on the crisis.

Biden Resonates on Social Media

Of course, not all Republicans are aligned on this issue.  And even some Democrats are against military action in Syria.


Republican Rep. Peter King believes President Barack Obama can take military action against Syria without congressional approval.

“I believe, as commander in chief, he has the right to take this action. It’s in his interest to consult with the leadership in the House and Senate, but I don’t believe he has to.”

King also said that the use of chemical weapons crosses a line and the US has to send a clear signal that such actions are not tolerated.


Republican Rep. Scott Rigell in a letter sent Wednesday to Obama that had been signed so far by 47 Republicans and eight Democrats said this:

“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” he wrote in his letter to Obama.


Rep. Justin Amash joined his Libertarian colleagues in saying, it would be “unquestionably unconstitutional” for the White House to launch a military strike against Syria without congressional approval.

The Michigan congressman used his Twitter account to respond about a potential strike against Syria:

Amash Tweets


Senator John McCain has been a strong proponent of military action in the region, but says a US strike must have a lasting impact on the region.

“The important part of this whole situation is, is this just going to be just a retaliatory strike that has no lasting impact or something that changes the momentum on the ground in Syria?” he said.

McCain also pushed for the United States and its allies to provide weapons  to “the resistance on the ground.”

Of these Republicans, whose garnering the most buzz in the past week?

Republicans Divided

On Facebook the response seem to be more unanimous and is showing what national polls are revealing: most Americans are hesitant to get into another war with a Middle Eastern dictatorship. Amash has seen the most gains on Facebook this week and has also been very critical about intervention in Syria.

On Twitter, it’s a different picture.  McCain has been a staunch supporter of a military strike on Syria and has seen the most gains on Twitter of the four GOPers.  Interestingly, Amash has gained the second most Followers this week–indicating the Twitterverse is torn about the US’s role in Syria.

As the Obama Administration weighs what is likely one of the most important decisions of the second term, we’ll be monitoring the buzz on this issue.

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