The Google Primary in Iowa: Sanders Surging, While Biden and Sanders Top Des Moines Register/CNN Poll

Whether you look at the last 12 months or the last 7 days, Senator Bernie Sanders is drawing more search interest in Iowa than the other top 3 announced Democratic presidential primary contenders.

However, when you zero-in on the last 90 days of data, there is much greater party between Harris, Sanders and Warren in Iowa’s search traffic.

For this article, we are looking only at Google Trends in Iowa with those three candidates plus former Vice-President Joe Biden and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Taking a big picture view, Sanders advantage seems to be growing in the freshest data but we also are starting to see interest in Biden and O’Rourke begin to grow. That said, his campaign announcement is the most recent out of this peer group, so this could be more an echo of that — and of course it’s still very early.

Biden and O’Rourke are both rumored to be announcing bids soon and already drawing more recent Google interest in Iowa than many other announced candidates.

Additionally, Biden and Sanders are strong frontrunners in a new Iowa Poll from the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom. More details on that poll after three detailed looks at Iowa data from the last 7 days, the last 30 days and the last 90 days.

The Last 7 Days

Sanders received more than 4x the Iowa search interest than Biden, his closest potential rival in this measure.

Google Trends in Iowa, March 3 to March 10

Just behind Biden, both Senator Kamala Harris and O’Rourke come in with the third-most search interest in the past week.

Looking at media markets in Iowa, we see interest in Sanders leading the pack in all areas of the state. The most interest is coming from the Omaha (NE), Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines markets with a 63% to 72% share of searches vs. this peer group.

Google Trends in Iowa by Market, March 3 to March 10

Sanders gets slights lower interest levels in Sioux City and the Quad Cities with a still majority 55% search share.

Both Biden’s (22% share) and Warren’s (9%) strongest market is Sioux City in northwestern Iowa. O’Rourke’s strongest markets are Ottumwa and the Quad Cities with a 14% share in both. Harris best markets are Rochester (MN) and Des Moines with 10% and 9% share, respectively.

The Last 30 Days

Sanders received just over 2x the Iowa search interest than Harris, his closest rival using interest metrics the last month. O’Rourke, Warren and Biden follow Harris closely in this peer group.

Google Trends in Iowa, February 10 to March 7

While Sanders is still the strongest across the state, looking at media markets over the past 30 days starts to show some greater divergence in candidate interest by region.

Google Trends in Iowa by Market, February 10 to March 7

Sanders still gets majority interest vs. the field in this peer group in one market, Omaha (NE). In the last’s weeks data above, Sanders has a majority vs. the field in all markets.

That said, Sanders still has the plurality of interest in most markets in the state. And in the two markets where there is no clear leader — Rochester (MN) and Ottumwa — Sanders, Warren, Harris and O’Rourke are at parity.

The Last 90 Days

The past 90 days includes the campaign launches of the three announced candidates in this group, Sanders, Harris and Warren, which does give us a different and one could argue a more stable sense of the data.

For the first time, we find a candidate not named Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, leading in aggregate search interest. She has +11% more interest during this period than Sanders and +42% more interest than Warren.

Google Trends in Iowa, December 10 to March 8

Looking at the media market breakouts, we see a lot more diversity in search traffic patterns compared to the 7-day or 1-month time periods.

Harris has a majority or plurality of search interest in the Rochester (MN — 55%), Ottumwa (44%), Des Moines (32%) and Quad Cities (31%) markets.

Google Trends in Iowa by Market, December 10 to March 8

Sanders has the plurality of interest in Omaha (NE-37%) and Cedar Rapids (36%), while Warren has the plurality in Sioux City (38%).

Comparison with Iowa Polling

Biden at 27% and Sanders at 25% are the clear frontrunners in the latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll of 401 likely Democratic caucusgoers was conducted March 3 through 6. The poll was conducted by the highly respected J. Ann Selzer, president of the Des Moines-based Selzer & Co.

Early support for Biden and O’Rourke are down slightly from the last Selzer Iowa Poll in December, while Sanders, Warren and Harris got bumps over the same time period.

According to an analysis from FiveThirtyEight, both Sanders’ and Harris’ announcements gave them real bumps in support nationally as well.

It will be interesting to see whether and how much search interest correlates with polling movement over time. We’ll want more time and data points to assess that.

This story is the latest in my continuing look at Google Trends data in the 2020 Democratic primary campaign. Find the rest on my Medium profile here.

Political Strategy for a digital world. Founder and President at Measured Campaigns

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