Can Google Predict the Minnesota Caucuses?

7 Feb

Ron Paul Trending Well in Minnesota

                It’s far from a scientific sample of the electorate, but Google has so far been a fairly reliable predictor of election results so far in the 2012 presidential cycle. 

                Google tracks what people search for online.  In a way, it’s a measure of groundswell and interest.  Marketers call it buzz.  When one mines the Google Trends data just for Minnesota in the past 30 days the search results show Ron Paul far and away has the most buzz. (Figure 1) 

Figure 1 - Minnesota Google Search Trends

               In the past six months I’ve observed how Google Trends served as a barometer for Michele Bachmann’s surprise win in the Iowa Straw Poll and Rick Santorum’s tight finish in the Iowa Caucuses.

                The latest scientific poll out by Public Policy Polling shows Rick Santorum with a substantial lead over Mitt Romney, 30-24%.  Newt Gingrich is next with 22% and 20% for Ron Paul.  In other words, PPP shows nearly the opposite results as Google.

                To be sure, Ron Paul has attracted a loyal following of younger supporters who have swamped every Minnesota campaign appearance in the past several days.  Paul has also trended very well in Google in previous presidential contests.  In fact, Google Trends showed him with the most buzz prior to the Iowa Caucuses.  However, he has not been able to convert that buzz into votes.  We’ll see if he’s able to accomplish that Tuesday night in Minnesota.

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