Can Search Predict the Elections’ Outcome?

Search queries have been famously called a “database of Intentions” (a term I believe was coined by John Battelle). It has been suggested that the history or pattern of search queries can be used for all sorts of product planning and development as well as myriad other predictive uses.

One question Search Marketer Tim Cohn (a frequent commeter on this blog) asks is: Does Google already hold data that show how the US presidential election is likely to turn out?

It’s a complex question because search queries are often triggered by news events, but longer term trends may indicate the likely outcome of the election. Cohn compares traditional polling data with Google search query data and concludes that relative Google query volumes are tracking presidential polls.

Here’s comScore data (Jan-June) on relative search query volumes for the candidates:


Related: Obama like Google, McCain like AOL . . .


8 Responses to “Can Search Predict the Elections’ Outcome?”

  1. Andrew Shotland Says:

    There may be something to this in a wisdom of the crowds way. I noticed the same thing when Obama picked Biden as his VP.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Happy to hear from you “Mr. Local SEO”

  3. Kevin Horn Says:

    Happen to be reading “The Search” by John Battelle and yes, he does use the term “Database of Intentions” and in fact, it’s the title of the first chapter.

    It would be interesting to see if this data could be broken down by state, region, zip… and then match that up post election…

    It’s all about local man!

  4. Andrew Shotland Says:

    Happy to heard “Mr. Local Search”

  5. Andrew Shotland Says:

    happy to “be” heard that is

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    I just happy to be

  7. Greg Sterling Says:


    Somebody should do that analysis

  8. Tim Cohn Says:

    I was planning on exploring search data at the state level to see what happens to it predictive qualities in a future post.

    In the interim – I have written a post about how find to find local voter precincts in Google Maps:

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