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Downvoted: Joe Biden’s YouTube Problem

Some believe that the “downvote” button is a way of testing the temperature of public opinion. And if that is truly accurate, Biden is not popular at all

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When Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States last month, he did so with a supposed mandate. If claims of election fraud are not to be believed, he won more votes than any other presidential candidate in history, winning 81,268,924 million votes and 51.3 percent of the overall vote to Donald Trump’s 74,216,154 million and around 46.9 percent.

Such solid support for Biden appears to bear out in polling. According to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, Biden currently retains a job approval rating of 53 percent after nearly three weeks in office, higher than Trump achieved over the course of his entire presidency. This is despite the economic damage already inflicted by his administration following his decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline, costing thousands of jobs.

All this points to the notion that Biden is a reasonably popular president. Yet there is one unofficial way of gauging public opinion that suggests that the 77-year-old Democrat is not popular at all. And that medium is YouTube.

Unlike its competitors, YouTube offers its users the chance to “upvote” and “downvote” its content. The feature was originally created so that users could warn others that the quality of a video (for example a highlights reel that doesn’t actually show footage from the game) was compromised. Yet in these politically divided times,

The most prescient example of this was the official White House live stream of Biden’s inauguration. The ceremony, which is intended to be a celebration of American democracy, received a staggering 83,000 downvotes compared to just 15,000 upvotes, a negative ratio of more than 5:1.

There are countless other examples. A clip posted by the left-wing Guardian of Biden “delivering remarks on U.S. economy and the American Rescue Plan” has 3,500 downvotes to just over 1,000 upvotes, a ratio of nearly 4:1. Footage of Biden traveling by helicopter from a local Fox channel has 1,300 downvotes to 300 upvotes, a ratio of more than 4:1. Similarly, a video from CNBC of Biden and his wife Jill arriving at the White House last month has 17,000 downvotes to 6,500 upvotes, again at a ratio of roughly 3:1.

So how does this compare to footage of Donald Trump? Well, CNBC highlights of Trump’s inauguration have nearly 2000 upvotes to 414 downvotes, so a positive ratio of 5:1. Meanwhile, a viral CNN video of Trump’s election night victory has some 50,000 upvotes to just 10,000 downvotes. Even a Sky News video of Trump addressing his supporters who stormed the capitol last month has an upvote ratio of roughly 5:3.

So what, if anything, does this all mean? There are various theories worth exploring.

The first is that YouTube is a hotbed of right-wing activity, and there are consequently more users willing to express their disapproval. Yet this seems unlikely, given that sites such as YouTube are more popular with young people who tend to be more progressive, and therefore more likely to be Biden supporters. There is also the fact that YouTube is part of Google, a company that actively censors conservatives and is widely despised by Trump supporters, and therefore many actively boycott the site whenever possible.

Another theory is that Trump supporters, so enraged by the election results, are actively coordinating to “downvote” all videos containing footage of the 46th president. But if this is truly the case, they must be doing it in secret, as no evidence of such activity has so far come to light. And if such coordination was taking place, one can guarantee the pro-Biden mainstream media would be eager to find a suitable explanation.

One possible explanation is that given that YouTube is an international platform, many of these downvotes are coming from countries around the world. However, this theory also does not pass basic scrutiny, given that Biden is more popular than Trump in practically every country in the world with a few exceptions such as the Phillipines, Venezuela, and Israel.

The final theory, and one most likely to be believed by Trump supporters, is that such a trend is merely further evidence that Biden is a fraudulent president who is widely disliked by the American public. There is no doubt that a large portion of Republicans and even a good chunk of the most left-wing Democrats feel a visceral hatred towards him. And if this is true, surely this means the election was indeed stolen by the Democrats? 

Whatever the case, the bottom line is that such aggressive signs of public disapproval of the world’s most popular video platform are not a good look for the Biden administration. Although this does not provide any conclusive evidence that Biden is not as popular as the recent election tells us, it does indicate that his promise to “unify” America and restore “normalcy” to international affairs will be one he struggles to keep.

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