AOC’s Twitch Stream Proves New Ways to Campaign


The latest forms of voter outreach have utilized unusual methods (Courtesy of Twitter).

Among the endless political tension circulating during election season, it can be nice to see a bit of levity from the world of politics. United States Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (better known as AOC) and Ilhan Omar succeeded in this realm by playing and livestreaming the popular online game “Among Us.” With the 2020 election drawing to a close, it is too easy to become overwhelmed by political tactics and attempts to gain voters’ trust. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have flooded us with media, such as ruthless advertisements attacking one another, and have tried every form of outreach available. Trump is infamous for his rallies at which he attempts to highlight his businessman persona in order to detach from the cold, unrelatable world of politics. 

However, these attempts from politicians fail among new voters for a very obvious reason: They are typical political tactics. American voters are bored of these attempts. We flip through television channels every day and see one advertisement after another from political campaigns. One way or another, Americans are sick of it, whether they are tired of political slogans and merchandise or tired of overused, cliche phrases that attempt to tug at voters’ heartstrings. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar were strikingly successful in their outreach attempt because it was seemingly effortless. They simply sat down behind a computer, played a video game with some strangers online and streamed it all on Twitch, a popular livestreaming platform for gamers. It was a mundane act, which is exactly what voters crave from politicians: a sense of their humanity. 

“Among Us” is an online video game that has recently gained popularity with people bored and restless at home. It replicates the beloved game of Mafia, although this version takes place in outer space. Gamers are presented with their roles: either a “crewmate” assigned to perform simple tasks or an “impostor” charged with killing the other players without arousing suspicion. Ocasio-Cortez promptly started off the livestream by divulging her fear of becoming an impostor, and then (very poetically) was assigned the role. The livestream was humorous and lighthearted, with both Ocasio-Cortez and Omar struggling to find their way through the game as first-time players without giving away their positions as impostors. The two congressional representatives were seen joking around, both with one another and with their randomly assigned crewmembers. It did not seem forced or prepared, but natural. It was a good look for all involved. 

Of course, this success isn’t to say that Ocasio-Cortez and Omar always had flawless outreach methods. In fact, the two found themselves in news headlines earlier in the year when a Democratic poll leaked to Axios revealed that the two representatives were seen as unfavorable candidates among “swing voters,” or white, non-college-educated voters who didn’t show a partisan preference. Even though a majority of the voters polled reported that they had heard of Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, Ocasio-Cortez showed only a 22% approval rating while Omar had a 9% approval rating. Democrats were worried about the increasing publicity surrounding Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to serve in Congress, since her views tend to lean further left compared to other Democratic politicians, seen in her outspoken support for Senator Bernie Sanders during his run for president. 

Nonetheless, the two representatives were able to bounce back with a more effective outreach method than those attempted by Trump or Biden. By allowing themselves to relax, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar were able to show a relatable side of themselves to American voters, instead of the tense, polished image usually pushed by politicians. 

This approach, of course, has its limitations. It was certainly successful among Twitch users, although that is a limited group of people. It was also successful among members of other social media platforms like TikTok, where sections from the livestream were edited down, reposted and turned into popular memes, further humanizing the young representatives with humor and wit. Viewers certainly didn’t need to be familiar with “Among Us” in order to respond to the video; it was simple to understand and was more about watching the reactions of the representatives than anything else. Among older or more conservative voters, though, the video game outreach will most likely only increase their bias against the representatives. These voters may disapprove of the attempt, seeing it as childish and immature, and support traditional attempts by politicians to connect with voters through mainstream media. Even though many proclaim that they are tired of politicians, they seem unwilling to accept the new avenues that young politicians are turning towards.

Regardless, the “Among Us” livestream was a huge success for Ocasio-Cortez and Omar. Plenty of people can attest to having seen at least clips of the footage online regardless of whether or not they supported the representatives prior. It was a carefree way for the two Congress members to remind people to get out and vote without resorting to the typical process of publicly tearing down their “enemy.”

Taylor Herzlich, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Mt. Sinai, N.Y.