Google Zeitgeist: Is Reverse Polling As Good At Predicting The Next President of the United States As Traditional Pollsters?

If you haven’t visited Google’s Zeitgeist recently, it now invites visitors to “take a look inside the world of search” via one of Google’s four search tools: Google Trends, Trends for Websites, Insights for Search and Hot Trends.

According to Google, “Zeitgeist” means “the spirit of the times”.

Google’s search tools reveal “the spirit of the times” through the aggregation of millions of search queries Google receives every day.

Isn’t the data Google culls from millions of search queries and their resulting Zeitgeist’s “spirit of the times” in effect – Reverse Polling?

Granted; searches for presidential candidates aren’t necessarily purchase proxies like those inherent in transactional related searches – or are they?

Through our votes aren’t we buying one candidate instead of another and then paying for both the newly elected and their predecessors’ policies via local, state and federal tax code?

Maybe one day we can shop for and elect officials online, but until then – we will have to settle for searching a candidates’ “product” features and benefits via all the various media available online including news, blogs and candidate websites.

Thus and barring concerns about the US Economy, few other topics symbolize the spirit of the times more here in the US than the upcoming United States Presidential election.

In keeping with the spirit of the times, below are two Google graphs illustrating how often each presidential candidate’s name has been searched compared to the other candidate with the difference calculated in ratios.

Barack Obama Searches

Barack Obama Searches

According to this Google graph, John McCain receives .62 searches for every Barack Obama search.

John McCain Searches

John McCain Searches

The same search data explained another way shows Barack Obama receives 1.62 searches for every search John McCain receives in Google.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published their most recent presidential poll which has a graph that somewhat resembles Google search data for both candidates.

Wall Street Journal Poll

Wall Street Journal Poll

Further Google tool research for both candidates websites even more closely mirrors the recent Wall Street Journal presidential poll results.

BarackObama.com JohnMcCain.com

BarackObama.com JohnMcCain.com

Google search data indicates BarackObama.com has received 1 search for every .32 JohnMcCain.com searches.

And again – the search data appears to closely mirror the Wall Street Journal presidential poll findings.

BarackObama.com Searches

BarackObama.com Searches

The same search data presented for McCain searches shows JohnMcCain.com receives one search for every 3.2 BarackObama.com searches.

JohnMcCain.com Searches

JohnMcCain.com Searches

Have not Voters’ presidential candidate preferences already manifested in Google search data?

If so, what search factors potentially skew the predictive qualities of Google data?

In my next “Google Presidential Poll” post, I will take a crack at answering the above questions while also delving more deeply into where and how voters’ presidential candidate preferences have already materialized in Google search data as well as provide additional reasons why I think Google data has reached parity with traditional pollster data – at least on the national level.

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One Response to “Google Zeitgeist: Is Reverse Polling As Good At Predicting The Next President of the United States As Traditional Pollsters?”

  1. Can Search Predict the Elections’ Outcome? « Screenwerk Says:

    […] question Search Marketer Tim Cohn (a frequent commeter on this blog) asks is: Does Google already hold data that show how the US […]

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