UK Election 2010: Google Insights for Search Tracks Interest In Campaign

Jeffrey D. Oldham, Software Engineer at Google, posted “Brits search for a leader” last night — about three hours after Dan Hoffman, Director of Real Estate and Workplace Services for NorCal, and Chief Goat Herder at Google, posted “The goats are baaack!

United States Trident II (D-5) missile underwa...

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I don’t think Google was making a political statement, but the juxtaposition of searching for leaders and goats is sort of amusing.

But, seriously, take a look at Oldham post. That’s the one about the Brits.

Yesterday, the leaders of the three largest British parties borrowed an American political tradition by taking part in the UK’s first live televised debate in the run up to the May 6 general election. Alastair Stewart of ITN hosted Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg as they discussed domestic affairs before a Manchester TV studio audience.

According to Julian Glover of, “Nick Clegg has surged into contention as a potential prime minister, according to a Guardian/ICM poll carried out following last night’s TV leaders’ debate. A quarter of voters who watched the three leaders on the ITV programme say they will switch their vote, with most changing to the Liberal Democrats.”

So, yes, offline media will have an impact on the outcome of the UK general election as well as online media.

But in his post, Oldham pointed out that you can use Google Insights for Search to track the election, too. Oldham said, “Nick Clegg, his Liberal Democrat Party, and its manifesto generated many queries as people searched for Lib Dems and Liberal Democrat manifesto 2010. Searches for David Cameron and the Conservatives beat out the well-known incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Labour, but the two parties’ manifestos generated about the same number of searches.”

He added, “Many Brits sought to watch the debate, searching for ITV election debate and live political debate, while others sought real-time polling information with queries such as debate polls, leaders debate poll and who is winning the debate.”

During the debate, Brown told Cameron, “I’m grateful, by the way, David, for you putting up these posters about me and about crime and about everything else. You know, there’s no newspaper editor done as much for me in the last two years, because my face is smiling on these posters, and I’m very grateful to you and Lord Ashcroft for funding that.” This generated queries for Gordon Brown poster and Lord Ashcroft.

Cameron’s statement, “We’re going to get rid of some of these quangos” sent users scurrying to determine what a quango is. (According to Wikipedia, it’s an acronym for quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation. It is used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia to label an organisation to which government has devolved power.

Get it? Got it? Good.

Clegg’s repeated railing against renewing the Trident missile and Cameron’s repeated railing against the jobs tax, a one percent increase in National Insurance contributions, were the other issues generating queries, according to Oldham.

He also noted, “Overwhelming these debate-related queries was the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the closure of British air space.”

During the next three weeks, you can follow the run-up to the May 6 British general election by watching debate highlights on YouTube on ITV1’s Channel.

The most popular video as of this morning, with 16,457 views, was The First Election Debate on ITV1 / The First Election Debate – Closing Statements.

So, yes, online media will have an impact on the outcome of the UK general election as well as offline media.

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