Pro-Biden Super PAC spends big on TikTok influencers

A pro-Biden super PAC is spending big on its effort to enlist content creators on TikTok to get the message out in the runup to the November election, a sign of the growing influence of social media in politics.

Priorities USA is giving out $1 million to around 150 influencers in its “creator” program, a “first-ever” effort to appeal to young voters using the Chinese-owned social media platform, according to Politico.

“The effort is part of a larger Democratic strategy to lure young voters in battleground states, who polls show are increasingly critical of Biden, whether over his age or issues like his stance towards Israel,” the outlet reported.

One influencer cited by the outlet is 42-year-old LaToi Storr, a Philadelphia-based lifestyle blogger with 16,500 followers whose normal fare of posting local restaurant videos, tips on skincare, and “community-focused” information on mental health care for blacks.

In the fall of 2023, her Instagram ad TikTok posts took on an increasingly political nature, urging her followers to register for an election for Pennsylvania district attorneys and judges and also reminders to get out and vote. Storr was paid $1,000 in total for her posts by Priorities USA, according to the outlet.

Another influencer, Raven Schwam-Curtis, a 25-year-old Chicago content creator who shares her views on race, politics and religion with her 101,000 TikTok followers was paid by Priorities USA for a video on the platform critical of new Republican Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) after he was elected to replace ousted Kevin McCarthy.

Qualified as a “macro” influencer for her number of followers, Schwam-Curtis’s video was critical of the devoutly Christian Republican’s stance on the LGBTQ+ movement and the controversial 2020 election which former President Donald J. Trump contends wasn’t on the up and up.

“I don’t think you realize how dangerous it is to have someone this right, this conservative, this MAGA-affiliated in that kind of position of power,” the Gen Z creator said in her video.  “As someone who is queer, black, Jewish and a woman, this literally flies in the face of my entire worldview and violates my religious freedoms.”

She didn’t reveal how much she was paid for the ad, according to Politico.

“Priorities runs effective, large-scale, digital voter mobilization and persuasion campaigns in key battleground states,” the group states on its website. “We invest in cutting-edge research and data. We build training and tools to grow our collective, progressive power. In partnership with movement allies, we employ innovative digital strategies and empower voters.”

The super PAC recently announced that it would be going fully digital with its ads and will be staying completely away from the more traditional medium of television.

According to Politico, “Priorities says that it does not script the videos or give creators like Storr and Kelly direct talking points — but it does brief them on internal polling and the group’s messaging, as well as best practices.”

“It’s however abortion is impacting their life or however they kind of want to talk about democracy. We’re gonna leave it up to them to do that,” said Danielle Butterfield, executive director of Priorities USA.

“As we looked to 2024, we felt like it was important to reach voters where they were spending their time,” Butterfield added, referring to TikTok.

The Biden campaign had already reportedly been mulling using TikTok to reach young voters, Axios reported last year, this despite bipartisan criticism of the platform and concerns about its security considering its Chinese ownership.

Chris Donaldson


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