60%. A failing grade in most courses in nearly any school or university. That 60% number is a mark US voters haven’t hit since 1968. The latest look at voter turnout shows a putrid 55.5%. Older voters typically vote at a far higher rate than those in younger age groups. Be it that they are cemented in careers, have already retired or have a larger stake in the stock market, they always come out and vote. Thus we are left with the younger voters. The voters that arguably have a far larger stake into the tone set by the next elected official. For why they don’t vote, I have to assume that a lot of it has to do with candidates not “speaking to them,” an overall lack of education on the topics at hand and a huge unrelatability factor since the age gap from younger voters to politicians can be vast. That is certainly how I felt. But, it appears that a handful of the above points are becoming less and less of an issue and Twitch (and Among Us) might be the key.
Twitch is an absolute mammoth of a platform. To the tune of a 7-day average of ~2.4 million viewers with an all-time peak across channels at 6,059,527 according to TwitchTracker. Remember that this doesn’t include when they are added to YouTube by the streamer, nor does it include any recorded stream by people that clip and upload them via YouTube nearly the instant the stream ends. The rise of ultra-popular games like Fortnite and the emergence of Just Chatting streamers has pushed Twitch into rare air. It just so happens that it took one tweet from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 24-hours and some legwork from some of the top streamers (notably: Hasnabi and Pokimane) to help AOC pull the third highest concurrent viewership ever at around 435,000 concurrent viewers. On top of that, she amassed a following of 646,000 followers.
The theme around the Among Us stream was GOTV, or Get Out The Vote, a non-partisan drive to increase the number of votes for the upcoming election. What better way to get the message out to the younger audience which Twitch caters to that usually doesn’t vote? The stream Featured AOC and Ilhan Omar alongside popular streamers/ YouTubers: Hasabani, Pokimane, Disguised Toast, Jacksepticeye and more as they attempted a little bit of subterfuge or teamwork to come out victorious. What I assumed would still come off as a bit preachy, was surprisingly natural. The GOTV message was conveyed, but it was more just a group of people having a good time playing Among Us. AOC and Ilhan held their own throughout the 3ish hours of play. Even though neither her nor Ilhan played the game previously, they managed to create a highly entertaining stream as highlighted by twitter user @levlinds.
Now, did this one stream alter the face of the election? Most certainly not. Especially since it is almost guaranteed that not all of those that were watching the stream were American citizens with the ability to vote or were old enough to vote. But, does that even matter? AOC and Ilhan were able to do one thing that nearly all candidates can’t: act like one of us when encouraging us to vote.
The relatability of a politician is one of those aspects of politics that absolutely cannot go understated. I feel that is what scuttled Hillary Clinton in 2016, and conversely why Trump succeeded. Trump led with the persona that he wasn’t a politician and he was just a guy trying to “drain the swamp.” Depending on which side of the aisle you are on, that might have been a strong selling point. What he didn’t tell people is that he is the swamp and has appointed his swamp-like creatures to cabinet positions and other positions of power. That is the stepping stone that AOC and Ilhan had taken in their first foray onto Twitch. They were both already well-loved by the younger generations due to their focus on climate change, their grassroots campaigns, the fact that they are both strong women that refuse to back down to the typical political “old boys club” and their ability to really be a part of their communities. They exemplify so much that a politician should be: a voice for the people and a voice of the people. Twitch has allowed them to amplify their reach on an already active audience.
Twitch isn’t going to suddenly be the place where politicians shift all their focus, nor is it a place where all politicians can thrive. I think AOC and Ilhan are in uncharted territory with that one and their ability to interact and play the game well enough helped catapult their Among Us streams into the streaming history books. While playing a game on Twitch itself isn’t new territory, the Democratic party has been utilizing more “hip” ways to attract voters, like the Biden Island Tour in Animal Crossing, or Bernie Sanders streaming his rallies via Twitch. It’s clear there is a massive audience waiting to listen. The democratic party has begun to realize that it might be pertinent to come to their base, instead of hoping the base comes to them.
You can watch the stream in entirety by hitting the link: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/776770697?t=0h15m13s