Andrew Yang Joe Rogan Podcast Proves JRE a Useful Platform for Progressives

I recently watched the Andrew Yang Joe Rogan interview on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Yang is smart and composed and I hope he makes the debate stage for the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary. To me, the appearance was a clever move by Yang and will give the campaign tons of content to pump out onto social media as ads.

And they’re going to need it – especially with the rules the DNC has set for candidates to qualify for the debate stage. Candidates have two paths to qualify: They can either poll at 1% in 3 separate polls or receive donations from 65,000 individuals in at least 20 states with at least 200 donations from each of those states. The size of the donation doesn’t matter, which is good. But the number itself sets a bar to prove grassroots legitimacy and campaign popularity.

The Joe Rogan Experience

Rogan’s show transcends the typical niche markets of podcasting. His guests range from alt-righters and conspiracy theorists who spread terrible ideas and who I would never give a platform to, to activists and scientists with enlightening and entertaining expertise. And because of that, the show is a mixed bag. One day you may learn about black holes or paleontology, and the next you may hear a conspiracy theory that is absolutely untrue.

Joe himself can be excellent. Like when he wrecked Dave Rubin for his ridiculous argument that we don’t need building codes because — the free market – or something.

And he can be terrible. Like when he struggles with understanding the importance of respectful pronoun usage for transgender folks, or gives platforms to racist ass holes like Gavin McInnes.

And he can fixate, like during the Yang conversation when he wanted to look deeper into a small point Yang made about the US having a low birthrate.

But at this point, Rogan’s popularity is undeniable, making The Joe Rogan Experience a near must-stop on the campaign trail in 2020 if you’re a candidate fighting for name recognition.

How can Joe Rogan Help Democrats?

By all measures, The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the most popular Podcasts in the world, and a Google Trends report on “Joe Rogan” shows he’s only increasing in popularity nationwide.

His audience is super big. Like, really, really big. Even way back in 2016, he claimed he was already getting 30 million Podcast downloads per month.

But who exactly are the viewers of Rogan’s show? Google Trends suggests the geographic northwestern states are the most interested in Joe Rogan, with Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Colorado and Washington rounding out the top 5 states searching for “Joe Rogan”. In fact, every top Rogan state is west of the Mississippi River until Massachusetts at #10.

IMDB ratings say that males 18-29 are the biggest fans. Opposite that, the site doesn’t have enough data on female listeners to give us proper estimates – which tells you everything you need to know about the gender demographics of the show’s audience.

Searches for “The Joe Rogan Experience” are strongest in Idaho and Maine, but far less popular overall than the search “Joe Rogan”. Maybe not surprisingly, both search terms provided “related searches” that include an all-star team of alt-righters: Jordan Peterson, Candace Owens, Gavin Mcginnes, etc.

Most importantly though is that Google Trends shows us how much the Andrew Yang Joe Rogan interview boosted Yang’s popularity in Google searches. Check this out:

Yang’s interview on Joe Rogan perfectly aligns with his sudden spike in popularity on Google Trends.

So what’s this all mean? The Joe Rogan Experience can dramatically help Democratic candidates with name recognition, especially amongst young men, with the added twist that they’ve likely been exposed to alt-right messaging.

What can Other Democrats learn from the Andrew Yang Joe Rogan Experience?

Yang is doing as much as he can to increase his name recognition, so a chance to speak to Rogan’s huge audience was an obvious choice. But what about the other candidates?

The answer is: maybe.

Establishment frontrunner Kamala Harris and Rogan both live in Los Angeles, so an appearance on the show for her would be easy to navigate. She already has a high level of name recognition, but an appearance on Rogan’s show would help her reach voters who are less likely to vote and would allow her to reach them on their terms, in their comfort zone. And she should go on the show as soon as possible, while it’s still cool and it doesn’t look like pandering. Did you go on the Breakfast Club? Cool, that’s expected. So did Hillary. Joe Rogan isn’t expected and a visit there would be smart and hip for Senator Harris. If she’s the 5th candidate to go on, it won’t be cool anymore.

A visit to the show makes sense for Kamala Harris, but the same can’t be said for every candidate.

Some Candidates Should be Careful

Bernie Sanders would do well on the show, but I’m not sure it’s worth the visit. The world knows Bernie, including Rogan’s audience. And with Sanders having been everywhere and answered most everything, Rogan would likely have to reach deep to field an interesting conversation. And I think he would. Bernie would need to be ready to field out-of-nowhere questions about legalizing mushrooms and DMT and about if he believes in aliens. And while I definitely want to hear those answers from Bernie, I wouldn’t take the risk if I were him. At least not until he thinks the campaign needs a shot in the arm, which isn’t the case right now.

And there are other candidates I feel would end up in conversations hyper-fixated on subjects they’d rather not focus on such a huge platform (even though I like them as candidates). Elizabeth Warren might have to talk endlessly about the DNA test. Pete Buttigieg might spend an hour talking about being gay. They are subjects that, depending on Rogan’s point of view, could paint the candidates in awkward positions, which is a terrible look for any candidate trying to gain initial traction (Buttigieg) or expand their base and make new inroads (Warren). Not to say they shouldn’t go on the show or can’t defend themselves perfectly well, it’s just another thing they would have to worry about in an interview that could quickly spiral into weird waters. In the end, the decision would have to be carefully considered by each individual candidate.

A Visit to Rogan, A Matter of Risk/Reward

In conclusion, a visit to the Joe Rogan Experience for 2020 candidates is a matter of weighing the risks versus the rewards. And to me, that comes down to understanding Joe Rogan and if your candidate can click with him. Rogan likes to talk about technology, science, futurism, UFC, and mixed martial arts and other cool dude stuff.

But like we saw with Yang’s interview, he loves listening to deep dives into policies and will give candidates as much time as they need (and a gigantic platform) to fully explain their ideas. That’s why Yang was so impressive. He has big ideas that he fully understands. But he needed a platform like Rogan’s to most effectively communicate it. It was a perfect position for him to be in.

And Yang’s success teaches other Progressives something. Candidates who are fully versed in their platforms, who don’t talk around issues, and who are passionate about the change they seek are most likely to succeed on the Podcast.

Which to me, sounds like a huge opportunity for honest progressives, and a potential trap for any candidate still carrying water for Wall Street and the 1%.

Ryan Black is a content creator, marketing professional, and political consultant who writes about Progressive Politics.

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