8 Viral Political Campaign Fails
The city primary elections have come and gone here in New York, which means one thing. Ok, it actually means a lot of things, one of those being that Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner’s campaign for mayor has officially come to an end. Weiner, who was doing well in polls before the world met Sydney Leathers, walked away with only 5% of the vote.
After his latest sexting scandal made headlines, Weiner’s campaign became a huge joke. Except it wasn’t that funny, because the Ween’s dirty messages and angry rants were taking attention away from the issues at stake in the election. But now that the election is over and Weiner has remained mostly hidden from public view since, I can’t help but enjoy laughing at his epic fail. Weiner isn’t the only politician whose campaign has turned into an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons. In honor of Weiner’s defeat, I give you 8 more epic, viral campaign fails.
1. Christine O’Donnell is not a witch.
In 2010, ultra-conservative Tea Party politician Christine O’Donnell ran for the Delaware Senate seat formerly held by Joe Biden. In the Republican primary election, she beat out the clear favorite, Congressman and former Delaware Governor Mike Castle. Her campaign included nasty attacks against Castle, including a video that insinuated he was having a gay affair. Then, clips of interviews from old TV appearances she had made in the 90s started to resurface. In one, she said that she had “dabbled in witchcraft” and “joined a coven.” In an attempt at damage control, she made a TV ad assuring voters that she was not, in fact, a witch.
Thanks to the lovely folks at Songify This, a musical version of the ad went viral. O’Donnell lost in the general election.
2. Rick Perry’s unpopular opinions.
In 2012, Texas governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry released a really douchey ad. In the ad, Perry complained about the fact that “gays can serve openly in our military” and accused President Obama of waging a “war on religion.” The clip drew over 200,000 downvotes on YouTube in less than 72 hours following its upload, and a campaign was launched encouraging people to report the ad as promoting “hatred or violence” based on sexual orientation.
Two days after the ad’s release, a meme was born. The Tumblr “Rick Perry’s Unpopular Opinions” posted GIF after GIF using images from Perry’s ad and pairing them with ridiculous opinions. Thanks, internetz.
3. John McCain vs. Paris Hilton.
As part of his 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama, Senator John McCain released an ad criticizing Obama for his celebrity level of popularity. The ad featured images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
Luckily for us, Paris Hilton took note and struck back via Funny or Die. She made a video for them that starts out just like McCain’s, but instead of making fun of his celebrity, she makes fun of the fact that he’s a grumpy old man. She also announces her candidacy for president. This was a fail for McCain because he came off looking like, well, a grumpy old man. And Paris came off looking… surprisingly smart. Watch the video here.
4. Carly Fiorina’s demon sheep.
In 2010, candidate for California State Senate Carly Fiorina released an ad (clearly campaign ads have gotten a lot of politicians into trouble) criticizing her opponent Tom Campbell. The (long and mostly boring) ad features epic music and a creepy narrator calling Campbell a flip-flopper and an “FCINO” – fiscal conservative in name only. The ad gets really interesting around 2:20, which is when the demon sheep is revealed. Actually, it is apparently supposed to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but really it just looks like a person dressed up in a sheep suit with red, demon eyes. The ad definitely went viral, so if that’s all Fiorina was going for I guess it was kind of a win. But it also turned her campaign into a joke. Yeah, she lost.
5. Sarah Palin’s… everything.
Oh you KNOW Sarah Palin had to be on this list. I mean, there was the time she said she could see Russia from Alaska, her obsessive use of the word “maverick,” and her general inability to say anything that made sense. Everything she did during the 2008 presidential campaign became a viral fail. I couldn’t choose just one moment, so here’s a video of Sarah’s greatest hits.
The world gave us Sarah Palin (bummer), but the world also gave us Tina Fey. I don’t know about you, but I’m really thankful for that, and especially thankful for her Sarah Palin impersonations. Sarah Palin may be a national embarrassment, but SNL‘s Sarah Palin parodies gave us some fantastic entertaiment.
6. Mike Gravel’s rock.
You’ve probably never heard of Mike Gravel. (Unless you’re a political nerd like me.) That’s because despite the popularity of a viral video, his 2008 presidential campaign never really took off. Gravel, a former U.S. senator from Alaska, was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for president in the 2008 race. In 2007, this video hit the interwebs and received over a million views. It’s not a campaign message or an endorsement. It’s just Mike Gravel, staring into the camera for a few minutes and then throwing a rock into some water.
Gravel later explained that even he didn’t really know what he was doing in the video. It made him a hot Google search term for a few days, which I guess you can count as a win. But the campaign itself was a pretty big fail, considering that Gravel finished dead last out of the eight candidates in the Democratic primary. He won less than one percent of the votes. Since then, Gravel has become a libertarian. He also claims that aliens have visited the White House.
7. Dale Peterson gives a rip about Alabama.
In 2010, Dale Peterson ran for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture. That’s probably not an office you (or many people) are particularly interested in, but internet did take notice of his campaign video. In the video, Peterson waves his gun around, complains about how “illegals bust in by the thousands,” and the “thugs and criminals” in government. The jerky, abrupt editing makes his already angry complaints seem extra crazy. It looks like Dale Peterson is ready to ride on down to the capitol and take control cowboy movie-style.
Peterson lost. He’s also been arrested for shoplifting twice since his campaigning days, although he alleges the arrests are part of a conspiracy. Come on, Dale! In your own words: you’re a Republican. You should be better than that.
8. Dan Freilich’s Old Spice Fail.
The 2010 election year seems to have been prime time for terrible campaign videos. Vermont U.S. Senate candidate Dan Freilich tried to be clever and cool by doing his version of the popular Old Spice Man ads. Feast your eyes on the beauty of the original.
Unfortunately for Freilich, his version didn’t turn out so well. First of all, he isn’t Isaiah Mustafa. Second of all, Freilich’s ad looks like it was made by a sixth grader. His is clearly the lowest quality video on the list. Third, he’s creepy.
Yeah, he didn’t win.