Need to predict US election winners? Google it

WASHINGTON • Google's ability to look into the future of political contests just notched another win: New Hampshire.
 

Searches of presidential candidates conducted by Google users in New Hampshire last Tuesday corresponded closely with the actual results of the state's primary voters.

The top searched Democratic candidate was Mr Bernie Sanders, who won with 60 per cent of votes in New Hampshire, according to the Associated Press.

He got 72 per cent of the searches, according to Google, while Mrs Hillary Clinton got 28 per cent of the queries and 38 per cent of the vote.

The top searched Republican candidate was Mr Donald Trump, who won with 35 per cent of the vote. On Google, he received 41 per cent of the searches an hour before the polls closed, according to the search giant. No. 2 was Mr John Kasich, who got both 16 per cent of the votes and searches.

The top searched Democratic candidate was Mr Bernie Sanders, who won with 60 per cent of votes in New Hampshire, according to the Associated Press.

He got 72 per cent of the searches, according to Google, while Mrs Hillary Clinton got 28 per cent of the queries and 38 per cent of the vote.

Mr Ted Cruz took third with 12 per cent of the votes and 15 per cent of the searches.

This is the first United States presidential election in which Google is releasing the real-time results of trending search queries. Previously, the Alphabet Inc unit had released aggregated search data with a delay of a few days.

Even before news outlets began looking to the data to judge how a candidate was doing during a debate, there have been signs that the data was a window into a nation's collective curiosity.

Similar parallels have occurred in the run-up to Canada's elections in October and Britain's last May.

While some academics have questioned whether Google's trending data can predict anything, Google remains coy about the power of its ability to look into the future.

"We don't make predictions but I would say that the data is really interesting," Mr Simon Rogers, data editor of Google's News Lab team, said last year in an interview.

"The data gives you incredible insight to the way people are thinking."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 14, 2016, with the headline 'Need to predict US election winners? Google it'. Print Edition | Subscribe