Yesterday, the Yahoo Search blog asked, “Can Search Usage Predict Election Outcomes?”
The answer is no. I covered this in a Search Insider column in November 2006, “The Unpredictable Election“:
If you were able to, in any rough
sense, predict the results of the U.S. elections last week for either
chamber of our bicameral legislature (and, yes, I’ve been waiting years
to use “bicameral” in a column), then you can feel pretty good about
yourself. It means you have a leg up on the search engines.
I should slow down, as that’s not
entirely accurate. The search engines themselves weren’t predicting
anything about the elections (though it would be fun to see them try).
What some of my colleagues and I tried examining, however, was whether
consumer search behavior was a better predictor of election results
than polls. It wasn’t.
I will agree with Yahoo’s take on the value of search usage:
That may be a bit of a stretch, but there’s no doubt that online search
behavior can be an insightful window in the minds of consumers and
For that reason, among others, have fun with the Yahoo Political Dashboard, where Yahoo Buzz, based on search behavior, is one of the factors considered for candidate success.