The Foneshow team spent a good chunk of time last week at conferences talking with customers for our political activism and campaign products. We saw a lot of people talking about the role video (YouTube et. al.) will play in the 2008 election cycle. My position leans towards concern. I suspect their will be an enormous number of "unauthorized" campaign commercials released. We have already seen a number of these types of ads (the Hilary "1984 ad", the Edwards "I Feel Pretty" ad, lots of videos of Giuliani in drag, there was a nasty one about McCain which I can't find now).
I believe that understanding provenance of a political advertisement is key. You need to understand the agenda of the people creating the ad to learn something from it. I suspect what will happen is there is going to be lots of noise and video will get lots of press, but in the end it will be a wash and online video will not play a significant role in who gets elected. I fear it could get so ugly as to turn people off of the process and keep them away from the polls.
While the video people may make all the noise in the 2008 election, I think we mobile people have more power to actually influence the outcome on election day. We can coordinate getting people to the polls. We can do micro-broadcasts to campaign workers on breaking issues. Our groups product can coordinate large remote teams of volunteers in the field in real time. We may even be able to use our interactive features in getting people registered to vote. Hopefully we can get more people better informed and participating.
At the end of the day, YouTube is another broadcast channel. Mobile is a communication channel. I believe politics in this country needs more communication and less broadcasting.