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The tactic is most popular with Democrats, least popular with voters.
Sitting in a parked car and taping someone leave their office or the shooting footage of a private home would be usually considered pretty bizarre behavior, well outside the purview of major social institutions. But in a heated election year, both major parties are using trackers—people who follow an opposition candidate and tape his (or her) every move. Some of what these people shoot ends up on YouTube and, as Politico reported this week, Democrats may be taking it to a whole new level.
Trackers, in particular those working on Democratic campaigns, have started posting videos of politicians’ houses.
According to Politico, Democrats defend the videos that show big and expensive homes by saying it shows how disconnected Republicans are from average Americas. “House Republicans have spent this entire Congress trying to hide that they’re protecting benefits for millionaires and perks for themselves instead of protecting the middle class, but we won’t let them keep it secret any longer,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson wrote in an email to Politico.
However, these videos do not appear to be resonating with voters. Most of the videos showing politicians’ homes get few views and a comparatively large number of negative comments and dislikes.
For example, the video “Where’s Mike Ep. 5 – Coffman’s House” was posted by Colorado Fair Share, a progressive group rallying against Republican Mike Coffman. In the short video, a woman walks up to the representative’s house and knocks on the door, but no one comes to the door—though in all fairness, the woman in the video does a lousy job of knocking on the door. Viewed about 340 times, the video has 47 “dislikes” and only one “like.” The comments don’t get any better.
“Aside from the questionable morality of posting someone’s home on the internet, you have to wonder – is he not home because he’s out working for his constituents?” wrote Illianderninebees in one of the more reserved comments on the video.
Most people seemed turned off by the entire thing, and it didn’t stop in Colorado. Candidates in Wisconsin and California have also been the target of the bizarre videos and some commenters questioned the safety and responsibility of the tactic.
“Videotaping a politician’s home and posting it on this internet, especially after what happened with Gabrielle Giffords, seems very reckless, not only to the (politicians), but the spouse and children that my live there. Not to mention is seems REALLY creepy,” wrote tdfisxs, about a video of Republican’s Ricky Gill’s parent’s home in California.
The home video trend is the latest iteration of a tactic that’s proved pivotal in several recent elections.
The most notable instance was in 2006 when Virginia Sen. George Allen was caught on tape calling a Democratic volunteer “macaca.” The man was an Indian-American and the incident led to Allen’s defeat that November. A more recent incident that went viral was when Tea Party-backed Congressman Joe Walsh lost his cool during a meeting with constituents.
But going after peoples’ homes may be going too far. The creepy footage seems fairly unwelcome on YouTube, with low view counts, negative comments, and lots of dislikes. Posting such videos looks like it will mostly backfire on the campaign that creates them—at least among the handful of people who watch it.
Photo via YouTube
Justin Franz is a Montana-based reporter and photographer who wrote about web culture for the Daily Dot. His work has more recently appeared in Flathead Living Magazine, Trains Magazine, and Travel + Leisure.