Oct 21, 2020
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday experimented with a new way of engaging with young voters, inviting hundreds of thousands to join her livestream on the gaming platform Twitch as she played the popular online game Among Us.
The three-and-a-half-hour livestream garnered 439,000 viewers at its peak--the third-highest ever on the platform--as Ocasio-Cortez focused largely on playing the game and chatting good-naturedly with other players but also made clear that the event was intended as a Get Out the Vote effort.
As she has for months, the progressive New York Democrat began the livestream by urging young voters to support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the election, in which there are two weeks left to vote, in order to defeat President Donald Trump and then push Biden to adopt progressive policies.
"Of course, we are here to vote Blue, that's [why] I'm here, to let you all know," said Ocasio-Cortez, who was joined by fellow progressive "Squad" member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in the game. The congresswoman also urged British players to explain the benefits of their country's publicly-funded universal healthcare system, the National Health Service, and peppered the discussion with commentary about leaving planet-warming fossil fuels behind by transitioning to renewable energy sources.
"What kind of futuristic spaceship has gasoline anyway?" Ocasio-Cortez asked during the game, in which players try to fix a broken spaceship and determine who among them is an imposter. "This looks like a gas tank, I mean really."
-- lindsay (@levlinds) October 21, 2020
"The impressiveness of AOC is not simply that she is a forceful and articulate proponent of the Democratic message, it is that she is able to speak credibly directly to millennials using platforms like Twitch," Mitchell Robertson, a fellow at the Rothermere American Institute, told the BBC.
Amanda Litman, executive director of the organization Run for Something, which recruits and supports young Democratic candidates for public office, tweeted that by amassing more than half a million viewers across several different livestreams, Ocasio-Cortez held "the biggest Get Out the Vote rally of 2020."
\u201cIf you add up viewers across the various streams, more than half a million people are watching @AOC on Twitch \u2014 she\u2019s hosting the biggest GOTV rally of 2020.\u201d— Amanda Litman (@Amanda Litman) 1603248732
The congresswoman's decision to engage with young voters on a platform they already use contrasted sharply with recent hearings on Capitol Hill in which members of Congress--who are nearly 60 years old on average--didn't grasp a number of concepts about the Internet and Facebook.
\u201cAs AOC plays Among Us on Twitch to 400k viewers, I'm thinking back to the tech hearing where a member of Congress didn't understand how spam filters worked. \n\nHot take, I know, but we should elect more young people!\u201d— Amanda Litman (@Amanda Litman) 1603245825
The livestream appeared to be paying dividends in its "afterlife," Litman added, with TikTok users posting clips of Ocasio-Cortez's game on Wednesday morning and garnering millions of views.
\u201cThe afterlife of this is wild \u2014 my entire FYP on TikTok today is clips of this stream, many of which have 1million+ views. The joy of it all \u2014 from AOC, from the other gamers, from people watching a politician they can 100% relate to \u2014 is so contagious.\u201d— Amanda Litman (@Amanda Litman) 1603248732
Other political and tech commentators also acknowledged that Ocasio-Cortez and Omar's efforts to engage with young voters could win them supporters in the future.
\u201cWhat is happening on Twitch right now is incredible. @AOC + @IlhanMN are geniuses to embrace the culture and engage people where they are at. They got 360,000+ people watching them play Among Us, talking about voting + finding joy during these insane times. Brilliant! #VoteEarly\u201d— Michael Skolnik (@Michael Skolnik) 1603246835
\u201cReally the only take I have about how @aoc is engaging twitch is that she clearly understands the platform and its appeal. She\u2019s not doing what we do in media: try to force outside product like a \u201cshow\u201d or podcast into twitch. Twitch is an engagement platform first, not broadcast\u201d— Gene Park (@Gene Park) 1603140161
Myth, a professional gamer with millions of followers on Twitch and Twitter who joined Ocasio-Cortez's livestream, followed the game by elevating the congresswoman's Get Out the Vote message.
\u201cIt was nice playing with @AOC tonight! Thank you all for coming out and watching. Remember to vote this election as well. This election is my first time voting and its super easy to do so do it. \ud83d\ude42\u201d— Myth (@Myth) 1603248878
"Remember to vote this election as well," he wrote. "This election is my first time voting and it's super easy to do so do it."
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