The influential role of video website YouTube was undeniable in the 2008 Presidential Election. YouTube became more than just a place for music videos and the home of "Charlie bit me." It became the location of the viral videos that helped to determine the outcome of the election.
    The role of viral videos has been made evident once again in the lead up to the upcoming midterm elections. The most famous example of political viral video is the filmed response of Congressman Bob Etheridge to two students toting cameras. In the video, which has already received over 86,000 views since being uploaded three weeks ago, Etheridge can be seen grabbing at both the camera and the individual holding it after being asked about his support for "the Obama agenda." The negative reactions came immediately after the video's release, with many speculating that this incident would cost Etheridge the election.
    More astounding than the videos featuring politicians being caught off guard, are the videos politicians willingly create and upload themselves.  Among the run-of-the-mill campaign videos, there are a few every election that stand out in a bad way.  This year, Dan Fanelli, GOP primary congressional candidate for Florida's 8th district, released a string of campaign videos aimed at explaining his strong views on terrorism.  The videos, which focus on what terrorists "look like," immediately received censure for advocating racial profiling and has been viewed almost 150,000 times on YouTube as well as receiving attention from Jon Stewart.  While these ads have gotten Fanelli much sought-after attention, it's been overwhelmingly negative.
    Similarly, Dale Peterson, who unsuccessfully ran for the position of Alabama's Agricultural Commission, released a campaign video that went viral and has been viewed over 1.6 million times. The video features Peterson, clad in a cowboy hat and brandishing a rifle, riding his horse while forcefully reviewing the reasons to vote for him. Although in a subsequent endorsement ad made by Peterson, he attributes his fair showing at the polls to his first ad, the cowboy had and rifle did not win him enough votes to win the primary. Instead, his ad made him famous. By utilizing all of the stereotypes commonly associated with Alabama, the video's absurdity begged a parody. Luckily, quickly supplied one, which has already been viewed over 230,000 times.
    Locally, a certain type of campaign video has been getting negative attention as well. The Washington Post reported on Maryland gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich's use of "faux reporting" as part of his campaign strategy. On his campaign website and Facebook and YouTube pages, Ehrlich posted news-like reports highlighting the positives of Ehrlich and the negatives of his opponent, current Governor Martin O'Malley.  These "reports" were done by former television reporter Andy Barth, who is now serving as Ehrlich's press secretary. While these videos have been viewed relatively infrequently, they received significant attention from the media and were hotly contested by the two candidates.
    Videos like these certainly take many politicians from real life irrelevance to internet infamy.  While many attempts are made to harness the power of this increasingly influential medium, such as CNN's YouTube debates and YouTube's political toolkit, viral videos, in a true democratic fashion, continue to be determined by the will of the majority. 
    With more than four months left until the midterm election, there's little doubt that more videos will surface, go viral, and drastically change campaigns.