Inside the right-wing YouTube empire that's quietly turning millennials into conservatives - 2018-03-13
In the weeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Americans flocked to the internet with pressing questions. Some inquired about immigration to Canada. Others Googled "sanctuary city." A few wanted to know what a "manafort" was. And millions were newly curious about the Electoral College, which for the second time in recent memory was going to contravene the will of the majority. What was it? Why was it? Could electors defy their voters' wishes?
People turned to the New York Times and the Washington Post, Fox News, and even the Constitution for answers. But few sources were as widely consulted as "Do You Understand the Electoral College?" a five-minute video hosted by retired lawyer and television pundit Tara Ross. Her genial lecture, illustrated with colorful cartoons and pop-up text—"pure democracies do not work"—can be found at Prager University, an online video portal curated by the conservative talk-radio host Dennis Prager. The Electoral College video had about 850,000 views before the election, says Allen Estrin, Prager's producer and consigliere. "Two weeks later, it had 50 million."
The intellectual quality of Ross' video is decidedly junior varsity. She doesn't mention how the Electoral College was born of a compromise with slave states or note the degree to which it skews the will of the majority—for example, by effectively giving a Wyoming resident's vote almost quadruple the power of a Californian's. She also claims (bizarrely) that the Electoral College thwarts voter fraud. But never mind any of that. The video is short and memorable, with quick cuts, zippy graphics, and cool sound effects. It sucks you in.