The Google Primary-Sanders Pulls Away, Plus is Biden & Beto Fever Next?

Over the last seven days, Senator Bernie Sanders drove more Google search interest than his competitors for the Democratic nomination for President.

Sanders’ competitors in the Top 5 group of announced candidates are Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. This Top 5 group of announced candidates were selected by campaign announcement moment interest.

Bernie Sanders, Photo by David Garten, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In addition to the Top 5 analysis here, I’ve also gone through Google Trends on unannounced candidates in the past week, which show growing interest in Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke’s candidacies.

Top 5: Sanders is clearly ahead (#BernieThanksCNN)

As seen below, Sanders was consistently driving greater interest during the week but much of this week’s interest was driven before, during and after his CNN Town Hall on February 25th.

Google Trends, February 23 to March 2

Sanders’ lead was substantial, driving 2x more interest than Harris, his closest competitor, and far eclipsing interest from the other Top 5 contenders.

Looking at the trend lines, only for brief moments did Harris (Feb. 24) and Gabbard’s (Feb. 28) break through Bernie’s levels.

Looking at a geographic breakout, Sanders’ interest was broad based with more interest in all 50 states over this 7-day span. Similar to a previous Trends analysis, we see the strongest state-based interest in Sanders from his home state of Vermont.

Google Trends, Subregions by Sanders interest, February 23 to March 2

Top 5: Harris’ Path to the Nomination

Sorting states by the level of interest in Harris, we see a continuation of a trend previously seen as well: strong interest from her home state of California and from diverse electorates in Mississippi, Nevada, Alabama and Louisiana.

Working with a colleague who has greater statistical analysis skills than I do, we found that the early correlations between interest and diversity are a little stronger for Harris than Sanders.

Google Trends, Subregions by Harris Interest, February 23 to March 2

This data aligns with NBC News reporting on Harris’ campaign has identified her strength in California, Super Tuesday states and the Southern primaries more generally as key to her primary strategy:

As she moves swiftly to build a juggernaut in her home state, California Sen. Kamala Harris is revealing what looks like an audacious strategy for delivering a mortal blow to her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination next March.

It relies on her geographical edge at home, her perceived demographic advantage in the South and a primary calendar that brings them together on March 3 — known as “Super Tuesday” because it is the date on which the most delegates to the party’s convention are in play in primaries across the country.

California voters alone will send more than 400 delegates to the convention, nearly double second-ranking Texas, and Harris, who is one of two African-American candidates in the race, is likely to have a shot at consolidating the black electorates in Southern states voting on Super Tuesday, including Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.

Unannounced Candidates: Biden and Beto Buzz Building?

Looking beyond candidates who have announced, both former Vice President Joe Biden and former U.S. Rep. and Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke are beginning to spark interest as they publicly consider running.

Biden won the week but Beto was a close second, picking up 32% behind Biden interest. This relatively small gap could be explained by Biden getting the jump on Beto’s camp by 24 hours with some buzz-worthy news this week.

Google Trends, February 23 to March 2

Increased interest in Biden began on Feb. 26 when news broke that his family was supporting him getting into the race.

Interestingly, 24 hours after this Biden news, O’Rourke’s camp gave a statement to the Dallas Morning News saying he wouldn’t run again for U.S. Senate in Texas — and teasing that he and his family had made a decision and would have more news soon.

This was widely read as a signal that he will run for President, generating a collecting of coverage and speculation like this piece from CNN looking at his 2018 performance in Texas and what it tells us about his national strength. (Spoiler: Texas is a reach swing state in the Trump era and Beto does look stronger than an average Democratic candidate).

Interest in Biden is broad based vs. an unannounced peer group with his strongest relative interest in his home state of Delaware, Nebraska and Pennsylvania, Biden’s state of birth.

Beto has greater interest both his home state of Texas and neighboring New Mexico.

Google Trends, Subregions interest in Biden, February 23 to March 2
Google Trends, Subregions by O’Rourke Interest, February 23 to March 2

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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