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Nearly Half a Million People Watch Twitch Live Stream

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday experimented with a new way of engaging with young voters, inviting hundreds of thousands to join her livestream on the gaming platform Twitch as she played the popular online game Among Us. 

The three-and-a-half-hour livestream garnered 439,000 viewers at its peak—the third-highest ever on the platform—as Ocasio-Cortez focused largely on playing the game and chatting good-naturedly with other players but also made clear that the event was intended as a Get Out the Vote effort. 

By amassing more than half a million viewers across several different livestreams, Ocasio-Cortez held "the biggest Get Out the Vote rally of 2020."

As she has for months, the progressive New York Democrat began the livestream by urging young voters to support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the election, in which there are two weeks left to vote, in order to defeat President Donald Trump and then push Biden to adopt progressive policies. 

"Of course, we are here to vote Blue, that's [why] I'm here, to let you all know," said Ocasio-Cortez, who was joined by fellow progressive "Squad" member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in the game. The congresswoman also urged British players to explain the benefits of their country's publicly-funded universal healthcare system, the National Health Service, and peppered the discussion with commentary about leaving planet-warming fossil fuels behind by transitioning to renewable energy sources. 

"What kind of futuristic spaceship has gasoline anyway?" Ocasio-Cortez asked during the game, in which players try to fix a broken spaceship and determine who among them is an imposter. "This looks like a gas tank, I mean really."

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"The impressiveness of AOC is not simply that she is a forceful and articulate proponent of the Democratic message, it is that she is able to speak credibly directly to millennials using platforms like Twitch," Mitchell Robertson, a fellow at the Rothermere American Institute, told the BBC. 

Amanda Litman, executive director of the organization Run for Something, which recruits and supports young Democratic candidates for public office, tweeted that by amassing more than half a million viewers across several different livestreams, Ocasio-Cortez held "the biggest Get Out the Vote rally of 2020."

The congresswoman's decision to engage with young voters on a platform they already use contrasted sharply with recent hearings on Capitol Hill in which members of Congress—who are nearly 60 years old on average—didn't grasp a number of concepts about the Internet and Facebook.

The livestream appeared to be paying dividends in its "afterlife," Litman added, with TikTok users posting clips of Ocasio-Cortez's game on Wednesday morning and garnering millions of views.

Other political and tech commentators also acknowledged that Ocasio-Cortez and Omar's efforts to engage with young voters could win them supporters in the future.

Myth, a professional gamer with millions of followers on Twitch and Twitter who joined Ocasio-Cortez's livestream, followed the game by elevating the congresswoman's Get Out the Vote message.

"Remember to vote this election as well," he wrote. "This election is my first time voting and it's super easy to do so do it."

Julia Conley
Common Dreams