KY Lawmakers using TikTok to reach young voters

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you're scrolling through TikTok, you might be surprised to find some Kentucky lawmakers trending on the social media app's "For You Page."

The Kentucky Senate Democratic Caucus posted their first video in June with the help of a summer intern.

Surprisingly, the first video took off and was liked over 151,000 times and viewed almost a million times. 

"I had some hesitancy about some of our members about doing this and so our communications team, we just decided to launch it and hoped it would work," said Senator Morgan McGarvey. 

McGarvey represents District 19, Jefferson and is often seen on the account dancing or lip syncing alongside Senator Reginald Thomas, who represents District 13, Fayette.

"This was a medium that was presented to us as a way to reach younger voters, millennials and generation z, and we said why not? We've got to be innovative and creative and be resourceful and so that's what we've done here," said Thomas.

Since June, the account has gained over 95,000 followers and its posts have received millions of likes.

"You get into this business to really want to help people and make life better for people and so to have some fun with it and not make politics so serious, to make enjoyment, it's kind of a nice relief," said Thomas. "Politics should not be so serious all the time. We've gotten to the point where we're fighting each other and almost at war and that's not a good place for this country to be."

The democrats say joining the social media platform allows them to reach younger voters that don't usually get their news through traditional media platforms. 

"People are viewing the TikTok platform as us communicating with people but really, its about listening. It's about listening to what younger people and younger voters are doing," said McGarvey.

Micah Goff, communications director with the KY Senate Democratic Caucus, says even one share from the account could help them reach potentially hundreds of voters.

"I think this was always our goal, to build up a base on there and eventually get people rolled over into other social media sites where they're watching us, maybe on YouTube where they can watch floor speech or back on Twitter where they can actually see what's happening on the Senate floor," said Goff. "If TikTok is the venue we have to use to get people in there, I think it's a great avenue for us to use."

The account has posted over 25 videos, each one getting at least 30 thousand views. 

One video of Thomas rapping along to a popular song, "Rick & Morty" by Soulja Boy, has more than 5.2 million views, which is more than the entire state's population. 

"I'm gonna tell you, I've had a ball wit hit. My children are all adults but they say, 'Hey Dad, that's a different side of you.' You have to have some levity in regards to politics and that's what TikTok allows us to do, to have some fun, and to have some enjoyment," said Thomas. 

The senators say there is no timeframe for how long they'll keep posting videos and say their plan for now is to continue posting for as long as they need to in order to reach more voters.

"This was a perfect opportunity for us to pick a platform that nobody else is really on in politics." said Thomas. "By getting out there, by trying this, by trying to engage we're succeeding and if it works, then fantastic we're gonna have a new way to reach people, and if it doesn't work than we tried. 

TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform in which users can make a variety of short-form videos by dancing, singing and lip syncing to popular lines from TV or movies. 

To view three of the videos, click below:

Video No. 1

Video No. 2

Video No. 3

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