Monday, December 13, 2010

Googling the Potential Candidates

A simple Google exercise for this chilly Monday morning, but one I think you'll find interesting if you follow me to the end.  Who gets the most hits, among likely 2012 presidential candidates, if you Google both their name (i.e., "Sarah Palin") and "political knowledge"?  Using just the Google Blog Search function, survey says:
  • Sarah Palin, 508 hits
  • Mitt Romney, 96 hits
  • Newt Gingrich, 60 hits
  • Tim Pawlenty, 18 hits
Oh, and Barack Obama?  If you're curious, 1,224 hits.

So what?  If you read the blog posts you find Palin's name typically associated with a perceived lack of political knowledge, although often you'll come across a spirited defense of what Mama Grizzly knows.  The others?  They tend to be associated with having significant knowledge.

The more numeric among you might argue that the differences above merely represent the varying popularity of the potential candidates.  That's a good point.  If we resort to searching blogs just for the names, the results are similar: Palin (3.8 million), Romney (783,000), Gingrich (500,000), and Pawlenty (177,000).  But if you sketch it out, you'll see Palin's advantage in sheer mentions is not quite as large, proportionally, as is her advantage in being tied to "political knowledge" (or lack thereof, depending on your partisan predisposition). 

It's a slim difference, sure, but I think enough of one to matter -- and to mean troubling news for Palin should she seek the Republican nomination.  On the flip side, if I could've done this in 1978 and searched for Ronald Reagan, I might have found similar results with "political knowledge."  And it all turned out pretty well for him, come 1980, and again in 1984.

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