NM Gubernatorial Candidates use YouTube to reach millennials

The candidates running for Governor of  New Mexico have been using YouTube to promote their messages to  their internet audience. The candidates have been running advertisements through YouTube, allowing them to link their videos to other platforms through YouTube and have strategies to reach people through the platform.

Both candidates, Steve Pearce and Michelle Lujan Grisham, have used  YouTube in similar and contrasting ways throughout their campaigns. With Lujan Grisham seemingly relying on YouTube far more than Pearce.

As of Oct. 20, Lujan Grisham’s YouTube channel over 1.2 million views, while Pearce’s channel had over 10 thousand views.

Michelle Lujan Grisham is the Democratic candidate running for governor this November. Lujan Grisham has published content on her YouTube channel frequently, with her latest upload on Oct. 19.

The content posted varies in quality, with some videos being professionally edited advertisements and some being quick videos where Grisham talks about her policy plans. Her content includes advertisements, support for her campaign and attack ads on Pearce, Leadership in Action Initiative videos and endorsements.

The topics of her videos include her personal accomplishments, issues and policies, her competency, and personal stories of Grisham’s help in the community. Some videos try to show Pearce in a negative light. The Leadership in Action Initiative videos are 30 videos displaying her first 30 actions during the first 30 days she is in office if she is elected.

James Hallinan, from Lujan Grisham’s campaign, said the purpose of the videos is to show the personality and animation of Lujan Grisham to the voters. Hallinan said Lujan Grisham is personable and shows her expertise through the videos.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

Hallinan said that Lujan Grisham has a “deep and broad understanding of the issues,” which he said is portrayed in her videos.  

Hallinan said the focus of the campaign is to bring an economy to New Mexico that motivates young people to stay in New Mexico or come back to New Mexico for employment. Commenting on his own personal journey, Hallinan said he moved to the East coast to find work after graduation but decided to move back to New Mexico.

“I moved back to New Mexico for leaders like Michelle,” Hallinan said.

Kier Strader-Monaghan, the digital director for Lujan Grisham’s campaign, said the target audience for Lujan Grisham’s YouTube channel is younger people, in particular, millennials.

“Television can reach a mass audience, but as a millennial myself I don’t watch television,” Strader-Monaghan said. “YouTube and Hulu are where I see advertisements.”

Strader-Monaghan said YouTube was their best option to spread the messages of Grisham’s campaign to younger voters.

Strader-Monaghan said the intended tone of the videos is a positive one. The videos are to show Lujan Grisham’s knowledge of the issues and to display her as a competent candidate, she said.

Steve Pearce is the Republican candidate running against Lujan Grisham. Pearce publishes content on his YouTube channel less often, with only 15 videos in the past five months.

His content includes advertisements supporting his campaign, and attack ads targeting  Lujan Grisham. He has one endorsement video on his channel. He focuses on jobs, education, his background, his competency and why he believes Lujan Grisham is unfit for governor.

One video on Pearce’s channel is posted twice, titled “Home” the first time, and titled “Hogar” the second time.

Pearce’s campaign declined to answer New Mexico News Port’s questions about the purpose and strategy of the YouTube videos.

Grisham and Pearce differ in the amount and type of content displayed on their YouTube channels.

Grisham has posted 16 professional advertisements on her YouTube channel since she announced her campaign for governor on Dec. 13, 2016. Of those videos, two were attack ads on Pearce and four were ads that defend Grisham against ads that displayed her in a bad light. Grisham has posted 16 videos endorsing other candidates on her channel, including one endorsement for her Lieutenant Governor running mate, Howie Morales. As of Oct. 20, Lujan Grisham has posted 13 videos in regard to the Leaders in Action Initiative.

Pearce has posted 12 professional advertisements on his YouTube channel. Of those videos, three were attack ads on Grisham and one was a defense ad. Pearce has posted one endorsement video. The video is of Democrat Dorothy Runnels.

Steve Pearce

From the period of Sept. 4 through Oct. 1, Grisham has spent $1,003,289.38 on advertisements and media, according to her report of expenditures and contributions filed on Oct. 8, on the Secretary of State’s website.

From the period of Sept. 4 through Oct. 1, Pearce has spent $916,548.94 on advertisement and media, according to his report of expenditures and contributions filed on Oct. 8 on the Secretary of State’s website.

Although normally displayed on television, some interest groups made the choice to upload their ads to YouTube.  You can find both support ads and attack ads on YouTube from people outside of their campaigns.


Bethany Johnson is a reporter for the NM News Port. She can be found on Twitter @bethanyjson.