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Google Politics & Elections

Visualizing the 2012 Primaries

The Project: To share its rich search data with media and voters alike throughout the 2012 Primary Elections, Google teamed up with JESS3 to create beautiful and informative content based on Google data. The resulting graphics have appeared on cable news outlets, such as FOX News and MSNBC, and on popular news and tech sites, such as The Huffington Post and Mashable.com. They have also been shared widely on Google+.

Our Methodology: In line with Google’s core values, objectivity was key for all data collection and analysis. Rather than telling viewers what to think, JESS3 focused on providing information, from which viewers could draw their own conclusions and insights. The style for many of the graphics was tailored to broadcast — simplicity and readability being highest priority. As a conclusion to the 2012 Primary Season, Google and JESS3 created an in-depth infographic comparing Google search trends to polling data and even voting results.

For each of the primary and caucus events, Google and JESS3 partnered to make content with real-time data from Google, specifically:

IOWA: Google and JESS3 partnered with FOX News to provide five live and two pre-taped on-air segments from Iowa. Early search trends showed an enormous surge for candidate Rick Santorum long before polling data noted a shift. Santorum won the Caucus, beating out Mitt Romney by one tenth of a percentage.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Partnering again with FOX News, Google and JESS3 produced on-air graphics, as well as blog posts, based on search data. Candidate Mitt Romney was the most searched candidate in New Hampshire the week leading up the primary, Google data showed; Romney won with nearly 40% of the vote.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Throughout the day of the Primary, Google and JESS3 shared content with various media outlets, as well posted to Google+ and other social channels. Google data showed a 743% increase in searches for Newt Gingrich in South Carolina in the week leading up to the Primary. Gingrich also won at the polls with a decisive 40.4% of the votes.

FLORIDA: In what many consider the last of the early primaries, Google and JESS3 finished the primary season strong. As we saw in Iowa and New Hampshire, Google search trends again lined up with the top three candidates at the polls in Florida: Romney, Gingrich and Santorum.

PRIMARY SUMMARY INFOGRAPHIC: To wrap up the Primary season, our teams collaborated on an in-depth infographic, “Search for the Nominee,” which compared Google search trends to polling data and actual results. The infographic shows that, in almost all cases, Google search trends were in line with the top three candidates in each of the states.

SUPER TUESDAY: For Super Tuesday, JESS3 executed a three part battle plan with the Google Politics & Elections team. 1) JESS3 produced an infographic graphic that Google released as people headed to the polls on Tuesday morning, to provide a glimpse into what candidate and issues people were searching on Google before the votes were cast. 2) Throughout the day, our team joined Google for a War Room in Google’s DC office. By monitoring and analyzing data from all 10 states in contention, our team produced compelling graphics for Google+ and the web. 3) After all the votes were counted, our team analyzed the final results in a concluding Super Tuesday infographic, which visualized states and delegates won, Google Search interest and percentage of votes achieved. In six of the 10 states, the candidate who received the most search interest prior to Super Tuesday also won the state in votes.

ONGOING: As we charge toward November, Google and JESS3 continue their partnership, sharing data, insights and content with media outlets, on Google+ and other social channels.

The Results: The use of Google data was evident throughout mainstream media’s 2012 Primaries coverage. More than 65 media outlets, whose unique monthly views total 174.2 million viewers, shared content produced by Google and JESS3 in the month of January alone. And nearly 40 high-profile Tweets directed as many as 4.2 million total followers to Google and JESS3’s content. US News and World Report even noted , “Proving that virtually owning the Internet isn’t big enough for Google, the dominant search engine is taking over the 2012 elections.” And Mashable asked , “Are Google Search Trends better election predictors than polls?”

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