All three of the major U.S. search engines are catering to Americans’ insatiable need for election data today, alongside a few get out the vote initiatives and helpful voter resources.
Google is using its homepage today to remind people it’s Election Day with a red, white, and blue ballot box-themed Google Doodle in which paper ballots have been arranged to form the letters of Google's name. Beneath the search box is this message: “Vote! It's Election Day. Find your voting location and hours” which links to Google’s Politics & Elections hub.
Google has an entire site devoted to the election, with a Polling Place Lookup for voters who can search for their station and see a ballot summary by searching their home address. They’re also offering a suite of free tools called the Election Toolkit, which is really just a giant ad for media, campaign managers and others to use Google+, YouTube, and an assortment of search tools.
In their “Just the Ticket” blog post, Yahoo announced special search parameters that produce election-related features, including Polls Direct Display to follow real-time results.
The Yahoo search terms to trigger election-related features are:
- [2012 Presidential Polls] for the Electoral Scoreboard seen above
- [swing state polls] to see how the all-important swing states are trending
- Search for your specific state result like this: [Nebraska Senate Race 2012]
- Get details on key propositions, issues, and referenda using the Propositions Direct Display. Search for the state proposition number. For instance, [Colorado Amendment 64]
- Search for your state’s local U.S. House of Representatives results by searching for [New York U.S. House Results] and get results in real-time.
Clever Obama is already targeting the term for PPC ads, but Romney must not have bid quite high enough for his campaign website to appear alongside Yahoo’s Electoral Scoreboard.
Larry Kim and his team at WordStream are predicting a landslide Obama victory. “Display ads are terrific for increasing awareness and building your brand, both of which are key when it comes to rallying and growing your voter base, so Obama could be getting tons of leverage out of this advertising spend,” said Kim. He estimates Obama has spent almost three times more than Romney on Google Display advertising per day.
Even better, Bing is offering a look into how people feel about the candidates and specific issues, based on their social sentiment analysis. Users can also see what social media users are talking about, which political hashtags are trending, tweets from influencers, and trending search topics.
Turning to the social networks, YouTube has urged voters to document their vote on video and submit it to the site, as they did in 2008. In the program announcement, YouTube News & Politics staffer Olivia Ma wrote, “Whether you’re vlogging about which candidate you support, capturing footage of the long line at your polling place, or encouraging your friends to get out of the house and go vote, we’re inviting you to send us your Election Day videos. You can either tweet them to @YouTubePolitics or include #YouTubePolitics in the video title, and a selection will be featured on the YouTube Elections Hub.”
YouTube's Elections Hub will have live election coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET as polls begin to close, as well as a real-time electoral college map being updated with Associated Press data.
Like Google, Facebook is reminding its U.S. users that it's Election Day, and offers a Polling Location Search Tool:
The Twitter Political Index also measures the sentiment around the two presidential candidates, based on 400 million daily tweets.
As of yesterday, Obama had a positive sentiment rating of 66 versus Romney's 56.
Twitter also offers a Political Engagement Map, featuring tweets from @BarackObama and @MittRomney:
As voters follow what has clearly been a divisive election on the major search engines, some are sure to be disappointed by the outcome. For one major search figure, the result doesn’t really matter.
Late last night, Google co-founder Sergey Brin posted a Google+ message expressing his disappointment in the entire political process:
I must confess, I am dreading today's elections.
Not because of who might win or lose.
Not because as a Californian, my vote for President will count 1/3 as much as an Alaskan (actually it won't matter at all -- I'm not in a swing state).
Not because my vote for Senate will count 1/50 as much as an Alaskan.
But because no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship. It is ironic since whenever I have met with our elected officials they are invariably thoughtful, well-meaning people. And yet collectively 90% of their effort seems to be focused on how to stick it to the other party.
So my plea to the victors -- whoever they might be: please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit. It is probably the biggest contribution you can make to the country.
[If you agree, pass it on to your newly elected officials.]
Regardless of your choice of search engine, you’ll be able to follow along as election results come in. Which platform do you prefer for election results monitoring?