A lot of political amateurs put weight into Google's ability to predict outcomes in elections based on search trends. Personally, I've always used Google's search traffic as a trailing indicator of strength and of course as a way to capitalize on the traffic for marketing. Whether it is straight paid search, YouTube, or display ads in Google's display network a sudden increase in traffic offers opportunities to either defend your positions or increase membership/donations. So let's take a peek at the last 90 days in Google Search for a few of Republican presidential candidates plus one more.
So what do I see?
- You can see the double spike for Michele and Rick Perry on August 13. Obviously that was the Iowa Straw Poll win for Michele and then Perry's announcement. Both of those were tremendous fundraising opportunities
- Perry's traffic really takes a steep slide after the announcement but in the past 90 days he has the most amount of search traffic (you can see the strength by the color coded bars). I don't know what their online advertising activities are, but from what I've seen it's zero.
- There were two Perry spikes around the early and mid September debates. Those were around the debate attacks he was getting around his HPV executive order and other points brought up concerning his conservative track record. Those were defensive, rapid response activities (that links to an old post on how to use search for rapid response) that were missed or fundraising opportunities for other candidates (see this clickz article).
- At the end of September there are two very interesting spikes. The first one is around Herman Cain and this should represent fundraising opportunities for him but like Perry, I haven't seen any online advertising since the Iowa Straw Poll. To put the Cain spike in perspective the height looks a lot like the height for Perry's announcement, Michele's Straw Poll Victory, or Michele's announcement back in June (not shown on this chart). Cain should be getting a lot of donations now and names of people interested in joining his campaign - however, like a lot of these sudden spikes, he needs to capitalize on the short term opportunities.
- The other spike is the Chris Christie spike, which until this week the search traffic was pretty vanilla. I personally don't believe my Governor is running for President in 2012 but that spike at least represents huge interest or the pressure he is under. If they had a PAC advertising around his name this would represent a great opportunity to fundraise or gather names of potential supporters.
- Finally, Mitt Romney's search traffic is uninteresting and represents his enthusiasm gap
Google search traffic is a trailing indicator of events that have occurred or are occurring in real time. It represents good marketing opportunities if you know how to capitalize it. Oh one final Chris Christie note, if his search traffic spikes to the August 13 traffic spike, you can pretty much be guaranteed that he opted to run for President.