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Move Over YouTube, Here Comes YouBama

By Jose Antonio Vargas
Never mind YouTube. Now there's YouBama.

Yesterday, Stanford grads Chris Pedregal and Erik Park launched what amounted to their winter-break project: YouBama, a hub of a pro-Obama videos which users can vote up and down, Digg-style. Most of the videos are culled from YouTube. At the moment, the top video is of George Clooney's interview with Charlie Rose in which the Oscar-winning actor calls Sen. Barack Obama "the best candidate I have ever seen."

The Barocket, as Obama's Web presence has been dubbed, continues to take off.

While Sen. Hillary Clinton has consistently led national polls, she's well behind Obama when it comes to online popularity. On Facebook, Obama has more three times the number of Clinton supporters -- 299,000 to 83,000. Obama counts 240,000 MySpace friends to Clinton's 171,000. And according to TechPresident, the bipartisan group that covers online campaigning, Clinton's videos have been viewed more than 5 million times, about 8 million behind Obama's. He's become a YouTube sensation. On Monday, Obama's nearly 5-minute video response to President Bush's "State of the Union" address became the most viewed video in the world, now seen 600,000 times. Today, his is the most viewed channel on YouTube, ahead of channels that feature Super Mario Bros. games and goth girls. He's possibly the first politician to hold that top channel distinction, Steve Grove, head of news and politics at YouTube, told The Trail.

"An Obama video becomes an automatic hit on YouTube when it's uploaded," Grove said.

Exactly what all online enthusiasm amounts to is difficult to measure. What is clear, however, is Obama's candidacy has mobilized a new generation online.The creators of YouBama said they simply wanted to provide a space where undecided voters can watch Obama supporters explain why they're voting for the Illinois senator. "Help add to Obama's momentum as we go into Super Tuesday!" Pedregal and Park wrote on the homepage. Videos are titled "Obama's not bought out" and "Experience v Unity."

Tech entrepreneur Craig Newmark, the Craig of Craigslist and an Obama supporter, uploaded a video yesterday, saying "If we work together and communicate and get Obama elected, we can help restore what this country was about."

"We didn't build this site to make money. It's an experiment. We support Obama, and we just wanted to be a part of this online movement," Pedregal, 21, told The Trail.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 30, 2008; 6:06 PM ET
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