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Examining Presidential Candidates Via Google Trends

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the correlation-!-causation dept.

Google 119

Michael Giuffrida writes "Google Trends is a free application produced by Google that shows how often a given keyword is searched for, over time. After seeing how candidates in the 2008 primaries have done in Google Trends in different states, it's clear that this tool can be very useful for campaigns." Read on below for some of the specifics about how these candidates have fared, Google-wise."For example, in New Hampshire, in the days leading up to the Jan. 8 primary, Clinton was searched for the most, followed by Obama, followed by Edwards — which was how the primary results turned out. In other words, the candidates most searched for on Google by users in New Hampshire were also the candidates with the most number of votes. This works for many other states as well.

For the first 37 Democratic primaries and caucuses, 32 states had enough data on Google to make a prediction. This method correctly predicted 27 of those 32 sates. Predictions aside, the tool is also useful simply in finding out how popular a candidate is in different states, assuming that the more popular candidates are entered more often as a search term in Google (an assumption that was verified, at least for the Democratic primaries, by the positive association found)."

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Mention Pigeons more (5, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695101)

Sir, every time you mention bird rights and protection your page rank seams to rocket.

ANAL SEX! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695831)

One modpoint wasted today, eight more to go!

Re:Mention Pigeons more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696053)

I could have told you this in February this year,

see below.

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=abTn8EuNnI8

27 out of 32 (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695115)

Interesting, but I don't think it's that hard to beat an 84% accuracy rate with traditional methods.

Where is Ron Paul? (5, Interesting)

bbagnall (608125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695487)

Why include Giuliani and Thompson and not Ron Paul? I would rather see Ron Paul than those other two who Ron Paul consistently beat. He was kicking butt in terms of Google searches.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (3, Insightful)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695741)

That's the same thought I had. Ron Paul was all over the map from Google Trends, Facebook, MySpace, and even Digg where he still has more support than Obama.

If anything, those trends didn't equate to votes which also means that this article is nothing more than a fluff piece and not to be taken seriously.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696415)

Here's the ruleset I propose:

If a candidate is equally liked by fanboys AND media, G-trends accurately reflects the public polls. (e.g. BHO)

If a candidate is liked by fanboys but hated by media (i.e. media blackout), G-trends fails to predict global outcome.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695767)

Ron Paul was not a serious candidate at any stage of the campaign, for any number of reasons. Giuliani was leading in polls before the primaries, and only the schedule threw him off. Thompson was considered a likely frontrunner before the season, when his lackluster campaign became apparent.

No-one credible ever considered Paul to be a contender for the GOP nomination. He was the very model of an issue candidate.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (1, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695819)

"No-one credible ever considered Paul to be a contender for the GOP nomination. He was the very model of an issue candidate."

As opposed to one the current candidates that seems to have NO solid issues to base his run for president on?

I'll leave it to you to figure who I'm speaking about.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696133)

Everyone knows the ultimate manifestation of politics is "what you base your run" for Presidency on. I can't wait til the election is over so that people like you stop feeling entitled (or interested) to talk about politics.

Eventually it will get off the front pages and your blather will seem, as usual, insubstantial. But as soon as words like "candidate" and "president" start to come into your post, your an expert.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697639)

"Everyone knows the ultimate manifestation of politics is "what you base your run" for Presidency on. I can't wait til the election is over so that people like you stop feeling entitled (or interested) to talk about politics.

Eventually it will get off the front pages and your blather will seem, as usual, insubstantial. But as soon as words like "candidate" and "president" start to come into your post, your an expert."

What makes you think it stops at the election? It keeps going just as strong after that. Politics is what makes ours (and most other) countries tick...everyone should keep their ears and eyes open to what our elected ones are doing....and constantly try to evaluate them as to their performance, and see if they need to be replaced the next cycle.

There are always elections going on...Representatives, Senators, Governors, local councils, judges, police...DA's...Sheriffs...etc.

It isn't like we only have things up for a vote every 4 years...there are multiple times to vote on a number of offices and issues locally and nationally every year.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (1, Insightful)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696567)

Feeding the troll (nom nom nom)...

Ron Paul was not a serious candidate at any stage of the campaign
Not even enough to the fact he raised more money debt free and free from PAC than any other GOP candidate and broke 2 fundraising day records?

Giuliani was leading in polls before the primaries
Giuliani had Roger Ailes support in the media, no other candidate had that level of media support. Oprah's support of Obama didn't even match what Murdoch Media did for Guiliani.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (0, Offtopic)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696819)

I know this is a little OT, but it turns out that Murdoch is practically endorsing [guardian.co.uk] Obama.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (1, Funny)

inertia@yahoo.com (156602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697051)

Ron Paul Is Dead just like Unix Is Dead and Apple Is Dead.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (-1, Flamebait)

Homer's Donuts (838704) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697811)

Only adults can vote.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (4, Insightful)

jasonditz (597385) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698249)

TFA says they deliberately excluded him because he was so popular on the internet and his search results don't correspond to actual votes.
In other words... their examination works great, except when it doesn't. And in that case, we'll just not included that data in the final results.
Wish I could've gotten away with that in college.

Re:Where is Ron Paul? (-1, Flamebait)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698281)

because ron paul is a hypocritical asshole? He votes NO! on every spending bill but quietly slips in all sorts of expensive earmarks for his constituents. The NO! vote is great public relations, I grant him that, even earning him the title "Doctor No" but Mr. Paul knows that his single vote won't change anything so he votes NO and spends, spends spends just like everybody else in washington.

The man is a total fraud and many have been suckered by his message.

Re:27 out of 32 (1)

Chr0nik (928538) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695723)

And now, what everyone's been wondering.. http://www.google.com/trends?q=%22john+mccain%22%2C+%22barak+obama%22&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0 [google.com] four more years?

Re:27 out of 32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695765)

It would help if you spelled Barack [google.com] right.

Re:27 out of 32 (2, Informative)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695777)

And now, what everyone's been wondering.. http://www.google.com/trends?q=%22john+mccain%22%2C+%22barak+obama%22&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0 [google.com] four more years?
No, the problem is you spelled "barack" wrong. http://www.google.com/trends?q=%22john+mccain%22%2C+%22barack+obama%22&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0 [google.com] change we can believe in?

Re:27 out of 32 (1)

Annymouse Cowherd (1037080) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695841)

Re:27 out of 32 (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695791)

"Interesting, but I don't think it's that hard to beat an 84% accuracy rate with traditional methods."

I think if you want to predict the presidential winner, you should go with the tried and true method....see which candidates halloween mask sells the most!! That has been an accurate predictor for decades now....It appears at least so far, now that they are tracking the masks throughout the primary season too, that Obama has the lead in the mask poll [topix.net] .

I dunno...at this point, I figure dressing up as Obama or McCain would be equally as scary to most of us....

:-)

Re:27 out of 32 (1)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696233)

Haha, excellent. But I'm confused as to whether they've predicted anything besides Obama becoming the nominee.

Re:27 out of 32 (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696467)

BuyCostumes.com, the world's largest online retailer of halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies has 100% successfully predicted the next President of the United States since 2000 based solely on the sales of candidates' masks.
About BUYSEASONS, Inc.
Founded in 1999...

I think maybe the parent was going for a Funny mod
These last two Presidential elections were anything but normal.

Re:27 out of 32 (1)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696477)

Wow, they have a 100% prediction since 2000! It's almost like there were only 2 elections that they've guessed right! We can totally trust these guys.

Weekly Reader Poll (3, Interesting)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696717)

Every election cycle, you can find stories like this [usatoday.com] about the Weekly Reader poll:

Pundits come and pundits go, but one group has quietly predicted the winner of the presidential election every four years since the Eisenhower administration: kids.

Most political junkies won't give it the time of day, but the Weekly Reader presidential poll of schoolchildren has pegged every winner since 1956.

As far as informal polls go, this one is supposed to be one of the most accurate.

Re:27 out of 32 (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697885)

So if Ron Paul released a Halloween mask, he would be our next president?

Also, I could see a crap storm happen with an Obama Halloween mask. Seriously, that could go in so many directions of political correctness that it makes my head hurt.

In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695123)

...without actually RTFA:

"For the Republican Primaries, last names could easily be used. Ron Paul was excluded. His last name is too common. Using his full name is not a good solution either, because he had massive popularity on the Internet, becoming a meme of sorts, which did not at all correspond with his actual successes (or lack thereof) in the primaries."

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (5, Insightful)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695553)

"For the Republican Primaries, last names could easily be used. Ron Paul was excluded. His last name is too common. Using his full name is not a good solution either, because he had massive popularity on the Internet, becoming a meme of sorts, which did not at all correspond with his actual successes (or lack thereof) in the primaries."
Translation: Including Ron Paul would have indicated our hypothesis was incorrect, so we excluded him.

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (4, Insightful)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695625)

They're using a candidate's popularity in Google Trends as a measurement of the success of their campaign.

For Ron Paul, his popularity on the internet has nothing to do with his real-life political success - as grandparent poster said, he's an internet meme. You think there's any correlation between "Ron Paul" jokes on forums and genuine interest in his campaign?

Their "hypothesis" for the other candidates Google trends measures the success of their campaign. With Ron Paul, it's measuring something else entirely.

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (1, Insightful)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696413)

So, popularity on Google trends means that a candidate has succeeded in getting his/her message across, or that people are interested in what s/he has to say, or that people like forwarding e-mail jokes about the candidate, or that the candidate has reached some critical mass of Internet meme-ness, or some other undefined level of Internet interest.

In other words, popularity on Google indicates popularity on Google. While I can't argue with the truth of that statement, I can quibble with its usefulness...

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (1)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697323)

I just realized that I hadn't RTFA closely enough to realize that this report was actually someone's High School project, so I have to apologize for the unnecessary harshness in my tone there.

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (3, Insightful)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696503)

Still sounds like they're excluding data to make their hypothesis true. "Using the internet to predict who will win is great, unless the candidate is popular on the internet."

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (2, Insightful)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696517)

Doesn't that prove the point "Including Ron Paul would have indicated our hypothesis was incorrect, so we excluded him." It means that this method is not a reliable predictor of political success.

On another note, listening to some of Ron Paul's speeches, he doesn't seem to have expected a realistic chance of winning the presidency. His campaign from early on seems to have been focussed on getting his message out and attempting to reform the republican party by packing it with libertarians. I will be interested to see what the effect is on the republican party in 10-20 years.

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (3, Insightful)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696685)

There are such things as statistical outliers and externalities.

They're not talking about "zomg google popularity means they'll win!" They're saying, "Watch for your search graphs to spike after a speech to see if it was effective."

Contrived example: Barack Obama makes a big speech about social security. If, suddenly, the number of searches for "Barack Obama Social Security" spikes, you could conclude that maybe you reached some people, generated some interest.

Now, boys and girls, this is where we stop and think. This would work for Barack Obama because those searches track well with the speech he made. It would not work for Ron Paul given his status as an internet meme. The correlation between Ron Paul searches and events in his campaign is going to be just as weak as correlations between Chuck Norris and (actual) events in his life, or between lolcats and pet food product safety.

I don't know how to make it any clearer. There is no "hypothesis." They have not framed this a statistical H0: Google doesn't control the elections and calculated a p-value. They haven't ignored data that would disprove some part of string theory. They're just saying this:

Tracking search trends can be interesting for candidates. Less so for Ron Paul.

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696711)

Never mind - as I read the rest of the FA, they are trying to predict elections.

^.^

But still, my point stands - they point out that this isn't useful for Ron Paul, because interest in Ron Paul on the internet has little to do with his actual campaign. But, nobody as the same Chuck Norris-like admiration of Hillary, so her results are related to campaigns.

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (1)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697031)

I wanted to see if Google Trends could apply to political campaigns. So I went with the most obvious measure - primary/caucus results - and developed a model that worked very well, for the Dems anyway. I certainly did have to backtrapolate a bit.. the model failed until I removed memes (Ron Paul) and found that using first names sort of "normalized" Obama's massive popularity online with the younger generation. So predicting future polls may or may not work, although if anybody tried, I would again suggest excluding memes and, if the first couple don't work too well, consider asking why and seeing if using first names works better.

But the whole point was to see if politics and Google Trends correlate in the real world. It makes sense that they would, but I haven't seen any studies that really analyze it. This was just my attempt as a high schooler for my senior seminar paper. I think it at least opens the door to using search data to help candidates understand what's working and what isn't. My article isn't demanding that you try to predict elections - just that you consider using Google Trends results in a field outside of technology, in this case in politics.

Regardless, thanks for your reasoned and mature comments, Z.

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698171)

You're setting the bar pretty low for "reasoned and mature." But, as some people don't seem to realize, controlling for confounding variables makes statistical work more accurate, not less.

But, that things seem to track more or less is pretty nifty. The next step would be to actually automate the predictions, and with curiousity piqued, I Googled (naturally) for a Google Trends API. They've been promising one [cnet.com] since 2007, but evidently it hasn't shown up yet or was cancelled, which is disappointing.

It would be really neat to use an API to feed the data into SPSS; you could do nifty things like have it compute how significant some difference in search volume really is, which could improve the (already high) accuracy of the model. Or perhaps have it compute if first, last, or full names correlate with each other.

But, they don't even give you numbers on the Y axis, let alone a programmable API! SPSS is like XML; using it more makes anything better. And while I'm rambling, I'd be kinda bothered by comments about it being "very nice for a simple high school project." Obviously, it would be even more intriguing were you a mature college freshman like myself ^.^

Re:In case anyone looks at the pretty graphs... (4, Insightful)

laddiebuck (868690) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696601)

So how do you know that say, searches for "Barack" are any more meaningful than searches for "Ron Paul"? No, the writer had a neat theory and got so attached to it that he discarded a bad data point instead of admitting it didn't work for Ron Paul.

By including Ron Paul but at least being complete and honest, the analysis would have been more worthwhile than what it now is -- a pile of rubbish.

Not the whole story (2, Interesting)

shma (863063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695125)

It seems their method does rather poorly when looking at republican primaries. Overall, they comment: "In reality, only about half of the "predictions" before the 2/12 primaries were actually accurate. "

Still, one would expect logically that interest in a candidate is related to their poll numbers. But you need a better way to distinguish between negative interest and positive interest: how many people are searching "Obama AND Wright video" vs "Obama AND race speech"? With a more detailed model they could be on to something.

Re:Not the whole story (5, Informative)

bwhaley (410361) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695223)

It seems to me that using search terms as a basis for anything is inherently biased towards technically savvy citizens. We Slashdotters are far in the minority - most of the population still gets most of it's news from CNN and the morning paper. Especially the voting majority.

As an example, look at the Google Trends data with Ron Paul included [google.com] . Searches for Ron Paul were higher than for Obama in early January, yet he was never higher than 4th (3rd?) in the Republican caucuses/primaries. His popularity was on the Internet alone.

Re:Not the whole story (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695327)

most of it's news
HATE HATE HATE

Re:Not the whole story (5, Informative)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695555)

Paul got 2nd in NV, after Romney. The NV state GOP convention was recessed indefinitely after it looked like Paul would get a majority of delegates and has yet to be reconvened. There are 2 competing conventions [politickernv.com] planned to finish the selection. The established GOP doesn't seem to like Paul very much.

I find it amusing that as this year had such a huge turnout of primary voters it just made more problems for the 'old guard' in both camps. Maybe if even more Americans bothered with being involved we'd get something other than the continued Washington Payola cruft.

Dewey defeats Truman (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696605)

It seems to me that using search terms as a basis for anything is inherently biased towards technically savvy citizens.
It's about as reliable as a telephone poll in 1948 when a lot of folk still didn't have their own phone, or in 2008 when a lot of folk have traded in their land lines for mobile phones.

Re:Not the whole story (0, Troll)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697601)

I think most of the Ron Paul searches were geared mostly along the lines of "Who the hell is this guy...."

and were in many cases followed by
"This guy's absolutely crazy"

Although he was an appealing candidate on the surface (Fiscally conservative, against Iraq, etc....), once you dug a little deeper, there were many things about him that didn't sit well with most voters (He literally voted against everything that crossed his desk, and was tied to some pretty scary people in the 90s)

Had a more reasonable candidate arisen as an internet meme, something might have come of it (you could argue that Obama owes a large degree of his initial success to coverage on the internet and from the independent media). Anybody that seriously thinks that a fundamental libertarian like Paul could have done well in an election is seriously deluding themselves.

Granted, if he wants to run as an independent, I'm sure he can (and would) fuck up the election, because his level of support isn't quite negligible.

Old farts (4, Insightful)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695131)

Folks, especially you statisticians out there, what's wrong with these pictures?

The sample: folks on the internet.

Who's missing: folks who aren't on the internet; like old farts, poor people and Amish. As far as the old farts are concerned: they are the most well organized and the most vocal political group in this country. I think these charts reflect nothing.

Re:Old farts (1)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695183)

Sure, and this is part of the reason why many states in the South or states that like certain candidates don't work as well with predicting. Google Trends itself currently only uses a relatively small sample size, too, exacerbating the problem. But these charts certainly do not reflect *nothing* -- just be careful what conclusions you draw.

Re:Old farts (1)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695217)

But these charts certainly do not reflect *nothing* -- just be careful what conclusions you draw.

OK, so they reflect trends on the internet and folks who are active on the internet: nothing else.

Re:Old farts (2, Insightful)

no1home (1271260) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695811)

But these charts certainly do not reflect *nothing* -- just be careful what conclusions you draw.

OK, so they reflect trends on the internet and folks who are active on the internet: nothing else.


Exactly. The author states several times that this ONLY looks at a small subset of the population, that this is NOT a proper statistical analysis. Oh, wait, this is /. Nobody here RTFA.

Re:Old farts (1)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695901)

The author states several times that this ONLY looks at a small subset of the population, that this is NOT a proper statistical analysis. Oh, wait, this is /. Nobody here RTF

You know what? I read TFA a few times. There is just vague references for not drawing conclusions, in other words; just CYA. They do not say anything specific. So, don't get all sanctimonious with me about reading the fucking article.

Oh wait... (0, Troll)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695921)

The asshole who published this now has a disclaimer. So, fuck you in accusing me for not reading the goddamn article.

Re:Oh wait... (1)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696181)

Yeah, your feedback made me realize that I was being unclear, so I added a "disclaimer", preceded by the word "Update:", to ensure that nobody actually takes this as statistically valid. Sure, you can't conclude anything about this year's race based on my article. But my entire point with this is to show people that there's this tool out there, that can provide a lot of useful information to candidates, which they don't seem to be using. I'm not trying to push any kind of agenda or act a**holish.

Re:Oh wait... (1)

no1home (1271260) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696687)

Let's recap:

You read the article. Good for you.

In my statement,"Oh, wait, this is /. Nobody here RTFA," I was making a generalization. Any broad, sweeping statement, such as those beginning with 'nobody', should automatically be presumed a generalization, a statement clearly false at the surface, but based on some nugget of information. It's painfully clear than many /. commenters do not RTFA. Thus, the generalization. I didn't point you out as one who failed this. You assumed this simply because I wrote my comment in reply to yours. It seemed a good place at the time, but your emotional instability prove me wrong.

I'm guessing you're not familiar with the concept of 'lies, damn lies, and statistics.' Stats can be made to say just about anything. Like a computer, garbage in, garbage out. I don't say this to insult the author. I think he did a wonderful job. I'm saying the average person should be able to understand the limits of stats.

I've reread the article and I'm quite satisfied that he stated things clearly enough for an average high school grad who's primary language is English, or who's English education has caught up to such a level, would understand the limits of this initial research even before the update and the added note at the bottom. (But, for those not up to the task, I'm glad he added those updates. English is but one of many languages in the wonderfully varied world.)

So you can read and use a computer. Considering what I've seen where I work, I have to say that doesn't take much. But I don't make any assumptions about you or your abilities. What causes me to think lowly of you is your rude, anti-social behavior. OK, so you didn't understand what I wrote and took offense, then wrote about it. Cool. Your verbiage, however, leaves a bit to be desired. I made no offense to you, but you fire vulgarities at me? Way to make a point! Just how daddy taught you to win friends and influence enemies, eh? Worse still, the author of the article did nothing to you, said nothing to you, and you toss such foulness at him? Why? What ever happened to you that made you this rude, semi-literate fool, you need to get over it and get on with your life.

Cheers

Re:Oh wait... (1)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697235)

Cheers, Fuck me.

Re:Oh wait... (0, Troll)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697263)

And,...get a grip...this is just a goddamn internet posting site. God!

Re:Old farts (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695211)

It's not just poor, old and Amish. Who gets counted in this "poll"? The tech savvy, the people who practically live on the 'net, those that feel the urge to tell the whole world their political view.

This is neither a majority nor a representative sample. I do predict an overwhelming victory for Obama according to those polls, even though I am almost certain McCain is going to win the election.

I'm an old-ish fart and I'd never vote for him (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696157)

Pray to god that McCain (which means "Son of Cain", as in the bible, Cain, the guy who killed his brother,) is going to go down in glorious defeat and that we'll all be able to deal with reality instead.

Re:Old farts (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695465)

I think these charts reflect nothing.
That may be, but I doubt it. I agree that the sample probably does not accurately reflect the voting population. However, as a young, internet-using old fart who happens to be a former statistician, I ask, why are these charts as good as they are at predicting the results?

Re:Old farts (1)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695495)

Exactly - while this isn't real stats, it shows promise for future research.

Re:Old farts (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698017)

*sigh* Fine, fine, I'll get off your lawn, you don't have to yell...

Re:Old farts (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698215)

What's voter mobilization as for as "poor people" and "Amish" are concerned? Since anecdote == data, my grandparents get some of their news on the internet, and I would suspect that some old farts might influence/be influenced by those un-old-farts doing the searching.

It's not a proper random sample, and it suffers from response bias. But with a near 90% success rate, I wonder how it compares to exit polls and the like.

Also, the elderly are more likely to vote, but census data since they're outnumbered 2-1 by younger folks (depending on where you cut off "older" and "younger" in the results table.) I'm guessing that even though a higher percentage of old farts turn out to vote, there is a larger quantity of young people. Underrepresenting an important group, sure, but a minority one.

politicians I'd like to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695139)

Pretty out of date, who cares about edwards? How 'bout some barack/mccain pilf action? Maybe throw in some hilary filling for the sammich

Gravel, Kucinich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695185)

Only so called "Front runners" get mentioned as usual, the rest get practically censored.

Re:Gravel, Kucinich? (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695343)

Only so called "Front runners" get mentioned as usual, the rest get practically censored.
It may not be censorship. For some states, even front runners Clinton or Obama had very low volume. In Arkansas "there isn't any search volume until the day of the primary, so no predictions can be made" (go figure). Search volume for Gravel and Kucinich may not have been statistically significant.

Also note that they excluded Paul from the Republican analysis because his popularity on the internet didn't translate to popularity at the polls.

Re:Gravel, Kucinich? (1)

SeekerDarksteel (896422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696825)

The correct thing to do in that case would be to include the results and explain that certain factors (such as higher popularity on the internet) can lead to the results being incorrect. Not to pretend that a candidate who fared better than two of the five republicans they DID show never existed.

What about the poor? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695199)

There are still a lot of people without computers/internet/education that won't be using Google, thus you could seriously under-represent the base of a particular candidate. Dewey defeat Truman, anyone?

Re:What about the poor? (0, Flamebait)

marxmarv (30295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696071)

People without education frankly shouldn't be voting. That's how we got into this mess in the first place.

Re:What about the poor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697623)

didn't mean to mod you down, sorry

ridiculous statistical flaws (4, Insightful)

jeske (7383) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695319)

The author is quick to dismiss using "Obama" and "Hilary" as the indicator terms for fear that Obama's huge online campaign popularity is not representative of the true popularity of the two candiates.

However, he makes no mention of the fact that "Obama" and "Hillary" are the most popularly used terms to refer to the candidates. Almost all candidates are refferred to primarily by their last names. Hilary is a special case where we use her first name because her husband was so recently president.

His use of "Barack" and "Hilary" is about as statistically accurate as using "Barack" and "Rodham". Fortunatly, this inaccuracy is obviously visible in his numbers, because using his first-name method it quickly looks like Edwards might be a write-in candidate to rival them both.

Please slashdot, stop posting braindead stories.

Cherrypicking the data to reach false conclusions (5, Insightful)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695349)

"For the Republican Primaries, last names could easily be used. Ron Paul was excluded. His last name is too common. Using his full name is not a good solution either, because he had massive popularity on the Internet, becoming a meme of sorts, which did not at all correspond with his actual successes (or lack thereof) in the primaries."

So, in other words, any data that contradicts the hypothesis will be thrown out.

Re:Cherrypicking the data to reach false conclusio (2, Interesting)

CecilZephyr (1303773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695447)

Good thing someone did compare Ron Paul to everyone else in Google Trends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iW5kOB1pmg [youtube.com]

Re:Cherrypicking the data to reach false conclusio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695541)

Well... I think that you might well need to throw out internet memes for perfectly legitimate reasons. Otherwise, you might get headlines like the following:

"New Google study shows that the majority of tech professionals view the internet as a 'series of tubes'!"

Re:Cherrypicking the data to reach false conclusio (1)

Myuu (529245) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695649)

That assessment isn't quite fair. One could make a reasonable argument that the Ron Paul campaign was one that would have biased any polling of this sort, appealing to the type of demographic that would google candidate's names and spend time look up this information. The Paul crowd was different from that which would search McCain or Huckabee, so avoid this distortion, the author left off Paul.

That is to say, Ron Paul was a consuming cult that was able to organize a massive, yet still a niche, support group, look at how his supporters used digg. Same with the case of quantitative analysis of Youtube videos. Paul supporters were generally more technologically educated and consumed, so therefore would be the most likely to create videos and pages.

I Know It's Not Statistically Valid. (5, Insightful)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695401)

Hey, guys, You're all right. There are serious statistical flaws here. I chose the keywords "hillary" and "barack" and "edwards" because that was the model that showed the best success. If one were actually predicting this live, he or she would soon see that "hillary" and "barack" do produce better results and would switch to those terms, simply because it fits the model better. Every election will have its outliers (Obama, Ron Paul). But hopefully this brief overview will provoke some campaign analysts to actually try to interpret Google Trends results for themselves, using more advanced models.

Re:I Know It's Not Statistically Valid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696077)

You think this simple page will teach the staff of $500 million dollar campaigns something they didn't know about internet statistics?

Hillary says 'hillary clinton dot com' about every eight minutes. Obama's campaign collected essentially the lion's share of their money online.

Having read your page I suspect people there could teach you things about measuring internet trends that you didn't know.

It's safe to say there are people in both campaigns who have spent a lot of time looking at the trends on the words 'whitey' and 'bitter', for example.

Re:I Know It's Not Statistically Valid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696445)

I chose the keywords "hillary" and "barack" and "edwards" because that was the model that showed the best success.
WHAT?!

You came up with a statement, and *then* picked the model which best showed that your statement was correct?!

Let me guess, you worked on WMD intelligence on the build up to the Iraq war...

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695467)

Libertarian-Anarchism is the Shizzz. But I wouldn't be so harsh on this little "study." He says a bazillion times that its not even legitimate statistics: just something cool that needs investigation. Long Live Ron Paul! Death to the nation-state.

Ron Paul: He can do anything! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696037)

1. If you have five dollars and Ron Paul has five dollars, Ron Paul has more money than you.
2. There is no 'ctrl' button on Ron Paul's computer. Ron Paul is always in control.
3. Apple pays Ron Paul 99 cents every time he listens to a song.
4. Ron Paul can sneeze with his eyes open.
5. Ron Paul can eat just one Lay's potato chip.
6. Ron Paul is suing Myspace for taking the name of what he calls everything around you.
7. Ron Paul destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.
8. Ron Paul can kill two stones with one bird.

 

What the choice of candidates tell me (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695505)

The choice of presidential candidates tells me is that it does not matter who gets in the WhiteHouse because there is something more powerful behind the scenes who is really pulling the strings, International bankers? (Builderburgers) multi-national corporations? BIG money.

Most of the time conspiracy theorists sound whacko to me but sometimes they sure sound like they have a little insight most people are not aware of.

Re:What the choice of candidates tell me (0, Flamebait)

wonnage (1206966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695577)

Actually, you sound like a nut yourself.

Re:What the choice of candidates tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695665)

I totally agree. Anyone who still believes that our electoral system is not controlled by the bankers (since the turn of the century) or the "military-industrial-congressional" complex as IKE warned us, is really just blind and stupid. Seriously. If you think our country is different from the corrupt crap holes that are every other nation-state, you've got another thing coming. We are choosing between a fascist (John "Old Torturee" McCain) and a communist (Barrak "Black Robin Hood" Obama). Amerika Kaput!

If Google search numubers predict who will win... (5, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695611)

Does this mean that the next President of the United States will be Tila Tequila?

If that happens... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695743)

I just hope that Russians, Chinese and the French will have enough good taste to nuke the remains of the Country Formerly Known as United States of America into oblivion.

Yeah, right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695635)

If Internet search popularity is used as an predictor, then the next US President might well be goatse.

Excluding Ron Paul makes perfect sense (0, Troll)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695735)

He was probably excluded because he was a fringe candidate* whose supporters engaged in questionable internet tactics designed to undermine serious results from any search engine one cares to study. Of course including him screws up the results. That was his supporters' goal.

*Yes, he was. Get over it. He was a candidate so far to the racist, paleocon fringe that even many libertarians were troubled by him (See, e.g., The Volokh Conspiracy [volokh.com] , and I can provide others). He's not a serious candidate now, nor was he ever.

Re:Excluding Ron Paul makes perfect sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695877)

Might wanna research before you speak...... see below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvFLSwDvBUA

This is an audio recording of an interview with Texas NAACP Director Nelson Linder, as interviewed by Scott Horton, in response to the allegations that Ron Paul was and\or is a racist....

On a sidenote, I thought the same when I heard about the ghost written article in his newsletter, but when I came across the link above, I no longer thought that way.

Re:Excluding Ron Paul makes perfect sense (1, Interesting)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695993)

I did, in fact, do some research [tnr.com] . :)

Had it been one article, I could buy that, but we're talking _years_ worth of racist venom in his newsletter. There wasn't a flood, but there was a steady enough stream that even the most laissez faire (rim shot) editor should have noticed it.

And something from Anti War Radio and Prison Planet? Come on, there's got to be better material in his defense out there. At the risk of engaging in the ad hominem fallacy, that station is largely populated by complete lunatics and 9/11 conspiracy theorists (but I repeat myself). I wouldn't trust them to tell me the time of day, much less balance out years of racist vitriol under Ron Paul's banner.

Re:Excluding Ron Paul makes perfect sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696705)

The point is not the forum used for his defense, it's who came out for it...... having an NAACP Director clear your name in regards to racism speaks volumes......

Re:Excluding Ron Paul makes perfect sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696907)

And Obama not only listened to Reverend Wright for almost two decades, but named him as a mentor and role model. Is he a racist? Or do you have different standards on what is acceptable, depending on whether or not you like a candidate?

BTW, I realize it's easy to demonize the followers of a candidate you don't like -- they are members of a "cult," or "fanatics" or "drink the Kool-Aid" or whatever -- but a statement like that tends to say more about the person making it than the person it's directed at.

(As a side note, I think Barack Obama is the best of the remaining major candidates, but I have to admit a certain amount of schadenfreude seeing his supporters labeled as cultists by Republicans and sexists by Clintonians. Hillary and McCain supporters were never numerous enough to have much of an effect on the web, but the more enthusiastic Obama supporters would target Paul supporters for derision often enough that it became quite annoying -- especially so because they should have been concentrating on who they were facing in the primaries, as well as who they'd face in the general election)

paris hilton! (4, Funny)

yulek (202118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23695769)

i've been using google trends for several years to see what information people really need as they go about their daily lives.

Global Warming vs. Paris Hilton [google.com]

Global Warming vs. Iraq [google.com]

(ignore the bottom chart, it is irrelevant to my study)

Re:paris hilton! (1)

not_anne (203907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697011)

it's a close battle between Slashdot vs. Ponies! http://www.google.com/trends?q=slashdot%2C+ponies&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0 [google.com]

Re:paris hilton! (1)

mgiuffrida (1303757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697133)

Actually, Slashdot has been declining in terms of Google Trends search volume: http://google.com/trends?q=slashdot,digg [google.com]

When you compare it to other things like Facebook or Google you realize how insanely small the percentage of Slashdot readers must be.

Re:paris hilton! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697251)

When you compare it to other things like Facebook or Google you realize how insanely small the percentage of Slashdot readers must be.


So small that you, the author of TFA, didn't notice and come here...

Oh wait...

I tried this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23695867)

and George Washington turned out to be the winner.

No Y axis label makes this basically useless (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696079)

Basically I'm wondering "WTF is this supposed to be measuring?"

Search = Vote?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696305)

I've searched for them both on google before...but it was only to find articles, videos, etc, on all the stupid things these two have done in this race. I'm not voting for either of them...
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