Instead of talking to their neighbors or posting yard signs, candidates' supporters and critics can take their messages to thousands -- even millions -- of people.
[Dan] Heiwig, a 26-year-old Indianapolis Republican, said he met Ballard and was impressed. But he knew that Ballard's matchup with Peterson was "a David-and- Goliath situation."
"They didn't know who he was," Heiwig said of voters. "Now they know who he is. Now they have a video."
Heiwig said he put up the first ad criticizing Peterson and supporting Ballard "just to see."
He let one person know about it, he said, and word spread quickly.
"The next thing I knew, everybody got it. I thought, 'This is great,' " he said.
He decided to put up two more and now plans to add a new one each week until the Nov. 6 election. To all but a seasoned political pro, the ads look just like the ones you might see on TV, complete with Ballard's slogan and references to his Web site.
As of Friday, the first two ads posted had been viewed more than 1,300 times each, and a third one about 950 times.
That's a minute amount by political-ad standards for a race in which about 150,000 votes likely will be cast.
But political experts say that YouTube's power can be explosive.
"It's a huge impact," said Democratic political consultant Robin Winston, a former state Democratic Party chairman.
In fact, he said, he encourages all of his clients to post ads on YouTube in addition to buying time for them on television.
Unlike TV ads, which are on-screen in 30-second increments for a week or two, YouTube ads are eternal; they can be viewed on the Web site whenever someone wants to click on them. Robert Schmuhl, professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame, said YouTube is changing politics.
"It gives citizens direct access to political messages that might not otherwise be seen. And the access is really a two-way street," he said.
Anyone with a video camera can now capture an embarrassing moment for a candidate, post it online and change the course of a campaign.
Not surprisingly, the Mayor's campaign manager, Mike O'Connor is skeptical about the ad's impact. "O'Connor said he's seen little evidence that it can have the same impact on local politics," Schneider writes. Curiously, the Star provides no link in its online Star to any of the YouTube ads referenced in the article. Schneider's article focus on Heiwig's ads. I think the ads being anonymously produced by The Hammer are more effective and are receiving more hits than Heiwig's. You can view them by clicking here.