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Using Google Trends to Predict the Next President (Final)

Updated on November 6, 2012

Google Trends

Without even researching history on when Google Trends began, you can quickly guess that it began some time in 2004, which is as far back as it can go when giving you trending information on anything.

With this in mind, it means that we can only go back to the 2004 presidential elections to see how good Google Trends is at predicting the next US President.

For this, we will simply use the search volume for predicting who the next president would be.

2004: BUSH vs. KERRY

In 2004, we had Bush versus Kerry.

Bush won with 286 electoral votes (53%) versus Kerry's 251 (47%).

2004 Google Trends:  Bush vs. Kerry
2004 Google Trends: Bush vs. Kerry | Source

Based on this, Bush is the winner. Kerry only peaked a couple of times, but most of the time, Bush had higher search volume than Kerry for 2004.

Since we have history on our side, Bush was in fact the winner. The search trends were pretty close.

Google Trends search volume matched with actual winner.


In 2008, we had Obama vs. McCain. Below is what the search volume was in 2008.

Obama had 365 (68%) versus McCain's 173 (32%).

2008 Google Trends:  Obama vs. McCain
2008 Google Trends: Obama vs. McCain | Source

From the search trends in 2008, Google Trends showed that Obama had a significantly higher search volume. Never did McCain surpass Obama in search volume for 2008!

In November 2008, Obama beat McCain.

2012: OBAMA vs. ROMNEY

Current Google search trends show Obama to be ahead, but the direction of the search volume appear to be in favor of Romney. His is on the increase, while Obama's is basically holding steady.

2012 Google Trends:  Obama vs. Romney
2012 Google Trends: Obama vs. Romney | Source

If I were to make a call right now, Obama would win. Notice how Obama's search volume is consistently higher than Romney's for the current year's graph.

I'm afraid that this is bad news if you are for Romney and good news if you support Obama.

Let's wait two and half more months and see where it takes us.

I'll update this posting in October 2012, and I'll make the prediction using Google Trends at that time.

Make a Prediction

Who will win the 2012 presidential election?

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Google Trends Prediction

Just before the election, about a day or two before, I will capture the trends and post it here. After the election, I will do another trend report and see how it comes out.

So check back later to see how accurate Google Trends is in predicting the next US president. If it continues to be as accurate as it has for the last 2 elections, then we will all have a way to predict who our next president is days, weeks, or even months before the election.

Election Day; It's Here!!!

Below you will find election day morning Google Trends for the last 30 days. Based on this, Obama will win by a very very slim margin. We'll find out tonight if Google Trends can predict presidents.

Trends for past 30 days
Trends for past 30 days | Source

Election Results

Whether you like it or not, the presidential result is here. Obama earns another 4 years in office. It was definitely a very very tight race. Here are the numbers (source: AP):

  1. Obama: popular votes=59,674,249 , electoral votes=303
  2. Romney: popular votes=57,055,308 , electoral votes=206

Well, so far using Google to predict presidential elections is working out. Note that you must use their last name instead of the full name to properly use this technique.


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    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 5 years ago from US of A

      With the election results over, I've posted the result of this little experiment. Obviously, so far this technique showed that you can predict presidential election results, even months before the actual election. This is not very scientific of course, but so far the results have proven to be so.

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 5 years ago from US of A

      Thanks for commenting. In my experiment, my hypothesis is that you can use Google trends to determine the next president using just their last name--not their full name. That is why I show the search trends for prior presidential races in the same light. I don't wan to make it any more complicated than that since I don't really have enough data points to even make a reasonable statistical estimate. For now, this is just for fun. Maybe it is wrong, or maybe I discovered something that's been there all along. That is why it is unfortunate that I couldn't go back further in time to get more google trends data. Google apparently only started doing this since 2004.

      If you want to pursue that route, see if you get the right presidential winner for prior presidents using their full name.

    • profile image

      Trevor 5 years ago

      "Mitt Romney" vs. "Barack Obama" shows Romney winning over 2 to 1. Mitt Romney is 1. and Barack Obama is .44

      The proper comparison is the searches "mitt" plus "Romney" plus "Mitt Romney" vs. "Barack" plus "Obama" plus "Barack Obama". Mitt Romney is way ahead in that math. I'm surprised that this guy would try to leave that out. Maybe because he want's it to look like Obama is going to win?

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 5 years ago from US of A

      Netdragon, you might be on to something. Perhaps, google trends is a good way of determining who wins the popular vote. It would have been good to see the Bush-Gore search volume trends. Unfortunately, it isn't available.

    • profile image

      netdragon 5 years ago

      I think Google trends does nothing but predict the populist choice. Both Bush and Obama were populist presidents.

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 5 years ago from US of A

      Maybe Romney will come through. We aren't too far away from the election. He has about 2 months to do his media blitz.

      I would have better statistical correlation if I can go back more years. Unfortunately the Internet and Google didn't exist far enough back in time to collect such information. So my data can easily be seen as simply coincidental.

      Only time will tell.

    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 5 years ago from California

      Great hub, and interesting idea.

      It makes me want to try fibonaccis too:)

      I do hope that you are wrong in your prediction though. I feel the same way that conservative Lady does. I don't want America to fail the IQ test again!

    • Conservative Lady profile image

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      You are very right - Romney has been hanging back and he would benefit if he hits it real hard from here on out. I am hoping his media folks are wise enough to turn things around.

      We will see soon as you rightly stated!

    • forlanda profile image

      Juancho Forlanda 5 years ago from US of A

      The problem with Romney is that he has been laying low for the first half of the year--just letting team Obama take all the shots without any significant response. On top of that, we have a media that is almost totally for Obama. That is hard to beat. If you are for Romney, just hope they go all out from here on. Hopefully it isn't too late to turn the tide. We're only just over a couple of months away; so we'll soon see.

    • Conservative Lady profile image

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Well now I am thoroughly depressed - just kidding. Great hub - love the idea but I hope Google trends is wrong this time. I don't think I could handle 4 more years of Obama and his desires for our Country. Voted up and interesting/useful