If you're looking for more proof as to just how bad this month has been for the Romney campaign and its message machine, some newly released data points to a significant digital enthusiasm gap for the candidate.
The 2012 conventions have been arguably the most important political moment thus far in the campaign and according to a study from the Pew center for excellence in journalism, Democrats enjoyed a hearty advantage in terms of exposure on platforms like YouTube. The results, which tracked total numbers of YouTube views from date of publish until September 24th, illustrate that Clint Eastwood's empty chair performance well-overshadowed Mitt Romney's big moment last August, pulling in 3.2 million views to Romney's 1.05 million.
It gets worse for Republicans. Aside from Paul Ryan outperforming Joe Biden (457,000 views to 173,000), GOP convention speakers lost the video view battle to their Democratic counterpart in nearly every category and President Obama's speech enjoyed nearly 4 million more views than Romney's.
As always, it's important to keep everything in context. YouTube views are just one of hundreds of video metrics that don't include primetime TV coverage or independent video uploads. Digital and streaming video views are also a subject of some contention, in that there are different standards for what constitutes a view. And there are some in the Republican party who probably see Eastwood's streaming success as a positive for the Romney campaign.
But what the numbers do help illustrate, however, is that the Romney camp has had serious difficulties capitalizing on a crucial moment of visibility for the candidate. YouTube may be one element of the vote, but as the views were complied over a month, it is indicative of the limited exposure that Romney is generating online. In a time where the Republican nominee needs to familiarize as many voters with his 'brand' as he can, he seems to be falling short, digitally at least.
The Eastwood-overshadow is only one element. According to the numbers provided by Pew, the leaked '47 percent' Romney fundraiser video has amassed 3.3 million video views in a little over a week, which is over 2 million more views than Romney's convention speech from late August. It is stark proof that in this particular digital realm, Romney has lost control over his message.
In the end, voters will decide things at the polls, and metrics like YouTube views amount to nothing more than an imperfect measure of viewing preferences of a single online audience. Yet, it's just one of many weak signals that social media and online data are helping to provide and in this case they seem to align with data that shows Romney has been having a September he'd like to forget.