Tagged: Google trends

A Saturday spike in Google searchs for Jack Layton

Since the debate, we’ve kept an eye on searches for the five party leaders, using the Google Trends tool that famously notices ‘flu outbreaks before the Centres for Disease control. (Previous examples here and here.) Extreme caution is required, but look what happened to Jack Layton yesterday.

Google Trends Saturday

On its face, this means a lot of interest in Jack. I assume that’s mainly a result of the found-in story, but a friend argues otherwise:

[I]ndications from previous elections (check 2008) seem to suggest [it reflects] popularity as well, though I don’t know why. It’s quite a spike, though.

It is quite a spike, and quite a leap to assume it reflects an increase in popularity, given that it occurred in the 24 hours after the campaign took a  salacious incoming missile. Still, it’s intriguing—and noteworthy that Layton searches have consistently outpaced those for Harper, which consistently outpace those for Ignatieff, May, and Duceppe. Searches for Iggy and Harper remained flat yesterday.

Trending federal leaders in Google searches

Google’s Trend feature lets users track and compare the frequency of searches for particular words or phrases in any country, or worldwide. This chart compares searches within Canada for the full names (first and last) of the five leaders contesting the May 2 Federal Election.

Google Trends Elxn41

I used Gilles Duceppe as the standard, so you could say Stephen Harper scored 12.6 duceppes; Jack Layton 7.8 duceppes; Michael Ignatieff 7.2 duceppes; and Elizabeth May 4.0 duseppes. (Sorry about the confusing colour assignments. Google picked ’em.)

Visual data: early warning of ‘flu trends

The frequency with which certain terms appear in Google search queries foreshadows reports of actual ‘flu activity from agencies like the Centres for Disease Control by about two weeks. Google tracks the frequency of ‘flu-linked search terms and maps the results by region. The current map for Canada shows low frequency in the west and east, moderate in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and high in Ontario and Quebec.

Google flu-adj-550

This is a screenshot. The actual map is interactive, so you can click on a province and see the search trends there over time. Check out the explanatory video.

H/T: Steve Manley, ‘flu sufferer.