Google Trends is a very useful tool to see and compare what people are searching for on the internet. Seeing that 75% (+/-) of all searches made are via Google.com, this allows one to get a snapshot, as Google says, "of what's on the public's collective mind."
How does it work for elections- could it be a gauge for who or what people will vote for? Here is a Google Trend's Chart for all of the major presidential candidates:
Click Here to see Google Trend Chart on Presidential Candidates!
As user MJV135 said in reply to a Google Trend's article in a comment on Huffingtonpost.com, comparing Obama and Hillary, "It's just more web hits. People are probably trying to find some actual work or policy he's done to see if he's qualified." And started with, "It also has Ron Paul leading all Republicans" sort of saying this gauge does not 100% work as a "poll" or accurate gauge.
In part one has to agree that many would be searching Ron Paul to get to know him better. However, check the link out above closely- he is way ahead of the rest! (post-posting note: Barack Obama has surged tremendously on this chart the last days!) So, let's try and digest this further.
What is cool about Google Trend's, which should be noted is still in beta, is that you can dig in deeper and look at from "where" the most traffic for any of the candidates, in this case, are coming from. Check it out- the most traffic is for Ron Paul from Texas- where he has been a sitting politician for years and years. You would figure they know a bit about him...
So far we have only had Iowa, Wyoming and New Hampshire. Let's face it, those are not the masses creating the internet traffic. So we will have to wait and see what Super Tuesday brings us in the big states.
But first, click on just the US and we see that Dr. Paul jumps even further out front in web searches (yet news mentions, oddly, are way down). See:
Click Here to see Google Trend Chart on Presidential Candidates - US only.
Look to the "cities" section below- interesting... we can see that, for instance, John Edwards, leads in his home states major city, Raleigh. Yet look at Dr. Paul in Austin, Texas- wow, what a surge ahead of the rest.
Some other places where Congressman Paul is leading all candidates are Minneapolis, MN, Portland, OR, Atlanta, GA and Philadelphia, PA.
Twiddle (no pun intended) around with changing "states" for you can get state-by-state specifics- here is how California stacks up:
Click Here to see Google Trend Chart on Presidential Candidates - California only.
Berkeley, CA (No surprise there- interesting fact thus) is way high on Barack Obama, yet look at the rest of the cities... Santa Barbara, Pasadena, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento, etc all have Ron Paul leading the searches- pretty amazing.
Now, choose Florida and WOW, Mr. Ron Paul is seriously "winning" there... okay, maybe that is jumping the vote- have fun, enjoy this "tool", after all, it can not be much worse than the polls have been. Nielsen/NetRatings (http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/) says that as of July 2007, 70.2% of the US population was online. You do the math, map out the Google Trend charts and look forward to the coming Primaries.
I hope that people much more qualified than myself, are monitoring the potential benefits of Google Trends in politics. The final conclusion, if any, will have to wait till the end of the year, however this seems like a perfect thesis or paper for a university student.