Partisanship Everywhere: Googling 47%

by Erik Voeten on September 24, 2012 · 3 comments

in Blogs,Campaigns and elections,Politics Everywhere

Data from Google Insights. States with smaller populations are less likely to have sufficient search volume given that Google calculates data based on samples (this includes some of the light blue states). Yet, the red-state blue-state divide seems to hold pretty well. The top ten states in terms of search volume were: New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Mexico, New York, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Oregon, Connecticut. Not exactly swing states. The plot below shows the correlation between the projected Obama advantage and the Googling behavior in a state (measured by Google Insights index, on which more some other time).

The fact that aggregate search volume in swing states is not particularly high does not mean that individual swing voters were not looking for this information or that some percentage of voters do not change their minds based on the gaffe. Yet, in the aggregate this picture is at least consistent with the idea that partisan pre-dispositions drive search behavior for gaffes.

ps. Search terms were: “47 Romney” + “47 percent” + “forty-seven percent” + “Romney video” + “Mother Jones Romney” + “47%” + “video 47” + “Mitt 47” + “Romney 47” + “47 Mitt” If someone can help find a way to embed these maps into WordPress, that would be great.


Bill September 24, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Interesting. Utah is probably the biggest outlier, with strong GOP leanings but high 47% interest. Of course, that’s not surprising considering Romney’s religion.

Andrew Gelman September 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Let me continue to disagree with the characterization of Romney’s statement as a “gaffe.” It’s not that Romney said something embarrassing and mistaken, it’s that he said something very deliberately that corresponds to an unpopular position.

A comparable statement would be Walter Mondale’s statement that he would raise people’s taxes.

Jason September 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Is Tennessee’s placement on the x axis correct?

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