Nov. 7, 2012 at 12:29 PM ET
While most people were seemingly aware of the candidates running in Tuesday's election, others turned to Google to find out who was running for what. In fact, more people than ever before entered the query "who is running for president?"
We know this little detail because Google Trends — a clever tool which shows how often certain search queries were made on Google over time — shows a huge spike for this particular question, as TechCrunch's Gregory Ferenstein points out. The spike shows us that searches for the phrase "who is running for president" have hit a peak in late October and early November, as the election day neared. Whether search terms are analyzed on a world wide or U.S. level, the graph remains fairly consistent.
There is some variation on a state-by-state level though. Many states do not have a high enough search volume to generate a graph and some — like New Jersey — saw a second, almost equal, peak in search volume in October 2008. South Carolina's searches for "who is running for president" peaked in January 2012, when the state held its primary. Tennessee was the only state with searches for this particular query peaking in October 2008, during the last election year, rather than this year.
So what do these search trends tell us, other than that people apparently love turning to Google for answers? Perhaps poli-sci researchers can use the phrase (and others like it) to determine how well messages reached to the electorate, at the state and national levels — or how uninformed people were despite record levels of campaign spending.
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