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YouTube Town Hall by the numbers: It’s the economy, stupid

By Will Houghteling

YouTube News And Politics

Over the last two months, we’ve been taking a snapshot of U.S. political opinions via the YouTube Town Hall. YouTube users have asked questions of members of Congress and then voted on their answers while focusing on the value of the idea rather than the party of the speaker (Town Hall doesn’t reveal party identification until after a vote is submitted). We received 50 videos from representatives across the U.S., and the videos have been viewed a cumulative 1.3 million times.

The numbers are in so you can see how the parties, and ideas, fared. Check out the infographic below for the full story, but the top level highlights are: 

  • Republicans received the most views, with over a million views total
  • The five topics Americans wanted to hear most about were the economy, energy, Afghanistan, education, and the budget
  • Democrat’s videos received the most votes from Town Hall visitors
  • The most viewed video overall is Senator Jerry Moran’s answer to a question on which sectors are most important for American economic growth.

Insights into YouTube Town Hall infographic

As you can see in the graphic above, we also analyzed transcripts of the YouTube Town Hall videos to identify which words are used most by each party. On the topic of Afghanistan, Republicans talked about progress, withdrawal, and success, whereas their Democratic counterparts talked about war, mission, and security. On education, Democrats mentioned technology and students, while Republicans talked about performance and college. 
This month, members of Congress are again stepping up to the plate to answer the top-voted user questions: 

  • BUDGET: If 5-10% of spending was cut from the anticipated 2012 federal budget and matched with an equivalent amount in tax increases we’d cut the federal deficit in half. Why not do it?
  • TRANSPARENCY: Can basic information on legislators' productivity be measured and reported in an accessible, comparable format? Categories for working hours could include: Dialogue with constituents, dialogue with peers, campaigning, legislating.
  • AFGHANISTAN: Why are we spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan to build up their infrastructure when we could be using that money to convert our own infrastructure?

Check back next month at the YouTube Town Hall Leaderboard to see how people voted, and ask your questions of Congress here!