Parlor Game: Web Search & the Election
One of the fun parlor games of Election ’08 is to look at Internet data and figure out what they mean.
The answer may be “nothing,” of course.
But let’s play along and look at the latest Hitwise data on popular search terms.
HitWise, a company that tracks Internet traffic, tabulated the search words that sent people to John McCain or Barack Obama’s websites. [Here’s a press release about the findings on the candidates’ top Internet search terms. For more detail, visit the Hitwise blog.]
Let’s look at the arguably vital issue of healthcare.
“Health care” didn’t make Obama’s top 5 search terms in the first quarter of 2008. In the second quarter, health care took the number 4 slot. Q1’s top term was “gay marriage,” Q2’s “abortion.
Meantime, “health care” took the tops spots for John McCain in both Q1 and Q2.
So: Does this mean people already think they know Obama’s healthcare plan and don’t need to search about it on the Internet? Or don’t they have much interest in the issue?
As for McCain, do the searches mean his plan is little-known and people want information on it? Or do those interested in McCain care more about healthcare than Obama’s voters?
You never know.
Q2 Obama top 5 terms, in order: Abortion, Education, Environment/Global Warming, Health Care, Immigration.
Q2 McCain top 5 search terms: Health Care, Environment/Global Warming, Oil Prices, Immigration, Education
Make of this what you will. But it’s worth noting that the economy does not make the top five for either candidate.
One final observation. The search term “Rumors” accounted for 5 percent of searches in Q1. In Q2, that number doubled. “Religion” dropped from 12 percent to 7 percent between Q1 and Q2.
Retreat to the parlor and discuss, please.