Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Politics

Predicting Election Results With Google 205

Posted by samzenpus
from the future-search dept.
destinyland writes "Google announced they've searched for clues about the upcoming US election using their internal tools (as well as its 'Insights for Search' tool, which compares search volume patterns for different regions and timeframes.) 'Looking at the most popular searches on Google News in October, the issues that stand out are the economy,' their official blog reported, adding, 'we continue to see many searches for terms like unemployment and foreclosures, as well as immigration and health care.' But one technology reporter also notes almost perfect correspondence between some candidate's predicted vote totals from FiveThirtyEight and their current search volume on Google, with only a small margin of error for other candidates. 'Oddly enough, the race with a clear link between web interest and expected voting is the unusual three-way contest [in Florida], where the breakdown between candidates should if anything be less clear-cut and predictable.' And Google adds that also they're seeing national interest in one California proposition — which would legalize marijuana."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Predicting Election Results With Google

Comments Filter:
  • Prop 19 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quantus347 (1220456) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:42AM (#34080078)
    Interesting how the possible state law for legalization of marijuana is getting as much or more attention from American people than the elections of the legislators who actually make our laws.
    • by magarity (164372)

      What is "prop 19" - it is nowhere on my state's ballot. I suppose this is a micro version of all the non-USA people complaining Slashdot is too USA centric talks. You are too whatever-state-you're-in centric.

      • Re:Prop 19 (Score:4, Informative)

        by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:04PM (#34080248) Homepage Journal

            It's explained in the summary...

        one California proposition -- which would legalize marijuana.

            If California maintains their legalization of marijuana, it likely will extend to other states in subsequent years.

            It's not that I care from a personal standpoint. I don't smoke marijuana. I have no intention of smoking marijuana. From life experience, I see no reason that it shouldn't be legal. I also don't drink tequila. I have no intention to drink tequila. It's legal though. Would I suggest outlawing tequila because I won't drink it? No.

            I did find it interesting that some alcohols [wikipedia.org] are illegal in California, that are available in a variety of other states. But unlike some other states, strong alcohols are sold in regular stores right along with beer and wine.

        • If it passes, my next vacation will be to Cali!

        • Some drinks are illegal. I think it's weird to talk of beer and wine etc. as "different alcohols".

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        What is "prop 19" - it is nowhere on my state's ballot. I suppose this is a micro version of all the non-USA people complaining Slashdot is too USA centric talks. You are too whatever-state-you're-in centric.

        I know this is getting off topic but after having lived in the US for several years I feel that **in general** Americans think of themselves on order of as being members of their local community (and that political affiliation sits around this level), followed by being a resident of their state, followed by being citizens of their country, and finally members of the world community. So that local "issues" take precedence over more encompassing issues, even if those more encompassing issues are more impor

        • by hedwards (940851)
          That's mostly a matter of scale. We're the 3rd most populous nation behind India and China. We're also the 3rd or 4th in terms of area depending upon how exactly you measure it.

          But it also has to do with the fact that we have states rather than provinces like pretty much all the other nations. They were originally completely autonomous being under a single confederation from becoming independent to about the time that George Washington took office, and a considerable number of issues are still handled at
          • by OzPeter (195038)

            But it also has to do with the fact that we have states rather than provinces like pretty much all the other nations

            And I think that is the key thing - Americans don't believe in their country. To me the squabbles over interstate commerce and the collection of sales tax vs self reporting of use tax are one indication of that.

          • Re:Prop 19 (Score:5, Interesting)

            by vertinox (846076) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @01:27PM (#34080966)

            Prop 19 is a dumb one because pot is primarily criminal under federal law, and so this isn't going to make much difference.

            I'm going to loose my moderation here but I want to point out something interesting.

            There is specific wording in the US constitution that prohibits the US Federal government from interfering with the collection of state taxes.

            In so much so that the US gov cannot collect income taxes from income received from interest on state municipal bonds (great way to avoid taxes btw).

            Now the only way the US can specifically outlaw pot and prevent California from taxing it is via a constitutional amendment (its what they did for the alcohol prohibition after all) and its really doubtful such a thing would pass in this political environment.

            I do believe the DEA will challenge it if it passes, but I think whoever put Prop 19 together was smart in that they specifically made the law to tax it and provide income to the state which historically cannot be legally interfered by the US Federal government.

            Had their been no tax clause, the Feds could have shut it down,

            • by uncqual (836337)
              This argument wouldn't last long in court. The fact that something can be taxed doesn't make it legal IFF it is taxed.

              Suppose Montana passed a law making it legal to assassinate IRS auditors but imposed a one cent tax on each such assassination. Would you still think your argument makes sense applied to that case?
              • by vertinox (846076)

                Suppose Montana passed a law making it legal to assassinate IRS auditors but imposed a one cent tax on each such assassination.

                in theory any state could make murder legal (though assault on Federal employees is technically a federal crime) but there is the issue of federal funds.

                DId you know most the laws that the Federal government passes actually is enforces by laws in the states (such as speed limits and drinking age laws) simply because the federal government makes the enforcement of the law a requireme

                • by uncqual (836337)
                  Possession, sale etc of marijuana is a Federal crime.

                  Driving 56 MPH back when the "national speed limit" was 55MPH was not a Federal crime - as you point out, the Feds just used their role as a middleman in highway funding scheme to coerce most states to enact state level 55 MPH speed limit laws.

                  The Feds mostly don't bother to enforce many Federal marijuana laws involving small amounts of the evil weed because the state/local governments took care of that via state laws and enforcement. When Californi
            • I do believe the DEA will challenge it if it passes

              No, they won't. They're not that stupid.

              The Feds do not have anywhere near the numbers of agents necessary to do this. Just to put things in perspective: even if you took all the currently available federal agents from the FBI (~13500), the ATF (~2500) and the DEA (~5500), that's about the same number of sworn officers in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department alone.

              There is simply no way they could do it. And on top of that, they would get no coope

          • When the DEA starts worrying about the pot head with an ounce bag walking down the street, then the federal laws will matter. Until then, the Californian people will not have to worry about getting arrested by the local PD which is usually the origin of most federal charges brought against a pot enthusiast with his/her own plant in the basement.

        • For the most part you're right. There are a lot of historical reasons for this attitude. To quote the tenth amendment of the U.S. constitution, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This is why laws, cultures, and infrastructure vary so much from state to state. While the Commerce Clause ("[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the severa

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by OzPeter (195038)

            That's what incited the country's only civil war. Urban and rural citizens have vastly different expectations of government. Their fight is to control the state first and the federal government second.

            Sometimes I think that the US needs another civil war. Its so polarised at the moment its almost amazing that it does hang together as a country.

            BTW as per HI. If I was Hawaiian I'd be more than indifferent to the mainland, I'd be pissed off. HI didn't choose to become a state. It was annexed due to business interests playing the US government - or perhaps the other way around.

          • Congressman Pelosi doesn't have to care about the midwest, but Speaker Pelosi most certainly does have to consider it. Inasmuch as the other congressmen who would vote her as speaker must weigh that decision against their constituents' wishes.

            She's removed enough that she doesn't need to give it too much thought, but it looks like some fraction of her supporters won't be back next term to vote for her. So we'll see on tuesday how that's workin' out.

      • by vxice (1690200)
        The whole point of states rights and individual states, besides getting people to agree to the new country at all by allowing strong local control of government except where unavoidable is that you have many small test labs to work in. Can California make legal marijuana work? If yes how and should it be copied to other states. Do people support it enough that they would move from their current state to live in a state that supports the law. Prop 19 will signal an acceptance of change in a law that shoul
    • Re:Prop 19 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pitchpipe (708843) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:16PM (#34080326)
      It's because we have politicians running the country, not leaders. They dare not speak the truth because they are not leaders. This country does not elect people who speak the truth, only people who say what we want to hear.

      What politicians won't say: want to win the drug war? Lose it! [time.com]

      Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is a solution to this, you know. We can be completely free of politicians: http://metagovernment.org/ [metagovernment.org]

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          There is a solution to this, you know. We can be completely free of politicians: http://metagovernment.org/ [metagovernment.org]

          I read through that and then laughed my head off. Collectives do not scale past the number of people you can personally know. Been there, done that and yes I do have a T-shirt.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Unfortunatly, Prop 19 may end up making Cannabis less legal in California than it is now. Today possession of less than an ounce of Cannabis is not a jailable offense in California. Prop 19 would recriminalize it in some circumstances under the auspices of "regulation". It would restrict legal Cannabis productions to a small number of registered growers, setting the stage for corporate domination of the Cannabis market. It also allows cities to prohibit the sale of legal Cannabis, which will actually re

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is all an outright lie. It's not a jaillable offense, but it's still an offense that will cost you a ticket and the marijuana/paraphanalia you have confiscated. After, it will be legal unless an honest to god federal agent catches you.
        Any adult can grow 25 square feet legally, so explain how that would mean it'll be restricted to a small number of growers.
        Corporations are national entities. If they start trying to produce and sell pot then the federal government will have their ass.
        Cities can regulate

        • by Hatta (162192)

          After, it will be legal unless an honest to god federal agent catches you.

          Or if you enjoy a joint in your own home when there are children in the house.

          Any adult can grow 25 square feet legally

          It's not 25 square feet per person, it's 25 square feet per property. This could be a big problem for multi-home properties.

          • by clong83 (1468431)
            Multi-home properties being a big problem? Are you serious? Are you thinking about an apartment complex or something going over-budget on its 25 square feet cause 3 guys all independently grow in their spare bedroom? Or folks with garage apartments/backyard houses that get leased out? Do you really think that these are going to pose a serious enough issue to vote the proposition down? I suspect that if there are minor problems with the law in cases like this, it will get ironed out in the courts or an
      • Hence the reasons regulation is more effective than making it illegal.

    • Interesting how the possible state law for legalization of marijuana is getting as much or more attention from American people than the elections of the legislators who actually make our laws.

      Not to mention it probably won't happen even if it passes. In Arizona we've passed a proposition to legalize medical marijuana three times, and it's on the ballot again this year.

      • If it was on the ballot 3 times, then it wasn't passed any time prior unless your constitution allows the legislature to over turn it. In Cali... 51% of voters can pass a proposition and not a single politician can do a damn thing about it.

    • Just wait for Prop 19 to get passed and people start failing drug tests for work - "Oh year I forgot to tell you that I flew to CA just before I had this mandatory work drug test"
      • by gmhowell (26755)

        The AC is correct, if vitriolic. I work for an employer that has pre-employment drug screenings. I specifically asked if a trip to Amsterdam exempted me. The long and short of it was "tough shit".

        But CA is the bellwether state with lots of legislation. With luck, it will be with marijuana.

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @11:57AM (#34080192)

    Funny how physics principles apply to the socio-political domain. First it was popularity and election polls, now it's Google Predictions. In both cases the 'predictions' tend to become self-fulfilling. With this press release, the mere fact that Google is making these predictions will become a factor now and in future elections, just as it has become a factor in the success or failure of businesses that do or do not successfully manipulate their Google rankings. Politicians, political parties, lobbyists, and astro-turfers will all be scrambling to have Google 'predict' their success.

    Make no mistake, Google is a kingmaker in our world. I find that a really scary state of affairs, especially given Eric Schmidt's pompous pronouncements on subjects such as privacy.

    • Now more cheating or campaigns needed. we'll just google to determine who wins. Much less expensive. Plus people in other parts of the world can help determine our outcome, unlike now where it's just hackers in Norway.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Could be worse. I found the exit polling during the 2000 Presidential race to be unacceptable meddling. They were making estimates and declaring things before the last polls had closed out west. I'm not really sure who it really favored, but it was obnoxious.
    • by vxice (1690200)
      If I were to guess it would be because supporters that have a better outlook get better return on their investment for supporting a winning cause. While supporters of a cause that appears sunk are unlikely to waste their effort. In the end people are still choosing to vote or not and who they vote for on their own accord. The problem actually is that we rely on such easily manipulated people to choose our leaders and laws. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." If you have a better option I woul
    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Google might be good now, but there is no promise they will always remain so when the leadership changes.

      Maybe 200 years from now people will curse us for allowing Google into existence. They might wonder how Google could have ever been a benevolent organization rather than the tool of dictators. In fact, they might never know that's how it was at the turn of the 21st century.

    • The trick, if you're a political party, is to get a bunch of pollsters and others engaged in reporting on predictions and polling and whatnot, to report your desired outcome.

      Then you can vote-fraud the night away, and no one will be the wiser. Heck, leave some areas alone, and when they don't track the polls closely enough, complain that there was vote fraud there.

      You probably couldn't get away with turning a landslide defeat into a landslide victory, but you could tweak enough close races (and there are p

  • Google announced they've searched for clues about the upcoming US election using their internal tools

    Thank goodness Google has promised not to abuse the information it gathers! I mean, think of the influence and wealth you'd gain by providing the right information to the right powerful people.

    • by Miseph (979059)

      You do know that there is already a large, well-established, well-funded industry around predicting (influencing? fixing?) elections? Worrying that Google's analysis of search trends to predict election results is going to taint the electoral process is rather like worrying that passengers on the Titanic might have gotten mild food poisoning.

    • Thank goodness Google has promised not to abuse the information it gathers! I mean, think of the influence and wealth you'd gain by providing the right information to the right powerful people.

      Google to Politicians: "The voters think you all suck."

      What's the problem?

  • It's not all that difficult. I mean, you currently have a 50% chance of guessing the correct answer. Republican or democrat. Choose the one you think is the most popular! No other parties exist, and if they did, they are evil communists who will ruin this already ruined nation!

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:16PM (#34080328) Homepage

    Between stuff I'm looking at because I agree with it, and stuff I'm looking at because I want to know what the opposition is up to?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PaulMeigh (1277544)

      Because nowadays most Americans only watch/read sources that they already agree with.

  • by rbrander (73222) on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:20PM (#34080358) Homepage

    Which party is ascendant does not appear to affect the larger sweep of history by all that much. Loads of Democrats voted for the War. Banking deregulation did start under Reagan and Bush I, but continued merrily under Clinton. Obama was supposed to be this big transformation, but all the civil rights slide and the wars continued untouched; banking and health reforms were way more timid than expected.

    As for the Stalinist Obama Takeover....they're arguing about whether income over $363,000 should be taxed at 35% or 39.6% ...spare me.

    But Prop 19, that's the first crack in a very, very big wall that has stood there for over 75 years, making a crime out of a handful of leaves. Several tens of millions of people know that the underlying assumptions of that law are utterly false, Literally millions of people who work jobs, raise families, pay mortgages fear arrest because of it, and have all their adult lives.

    It's a big deal. And enough has happened in recent years (complete decrim in Portugal, popularity for medical use) to make this, well, umm, change we can believe in. For those of us who thought it was surely going to happen in the 80's, before a sudden rightward swing brought stupid arguments (and lying ads based on brainwaves of coma patients) right back to fhe fore when we thought them defeated at last, it's starting to look Really Possible at long, long last.

  • The problem with using only "insights for search" is that the people who are more likely to vote are less likely to use the internet (especially for researching politics). Now granted, the article says they used other sources as well, so I imagine they may have accounted for that. It's similar to the problem with the old-school random-digit-dialing approach that most polls use (they use other things as well, though). The kind of person who answers their phone without recognizing the number on caller ID i

    • further, I would imagine that internet-based approaches (like this one with Google) will typically skew toward democrats (at least the raw data - Google likely accounts for this). Democrats are younger and use the internet more (why do you think they are the party of Net Neutrality? it's because Net Neutrality lobbyists know that democrats are younger and are more likely to care about internet stuff).

  • I've adjusted to the fact that the Democrats are going to get clobbered ( some of them deserve it ).

    I just hope Christine O'Donnell loses the race for Senate in Delaware. I find her to be the most offensive candidate. Watching her lose will be like a preview of watching Sara Palin's demise. They seem very similar. Luckily, her opponent has a solid lead on her in the real polls( not google ).

    After that, every TEA party candidate who loses will be a bonus for me.

    I think this election cycle will be call

    • by vxice (1690200)
      So who do you want to win. Or is the political process only about loosing no matter who beats the person you want beat.
      • by Jeremi (14640)

        So who do you want to win. Or is the political process only about loosing no matter who beats the person you want beat.

        There is a school of thought that says that the main function of elections isn't to elect the best candidate (since different people have different ideas about what is "best"), but rather to ensure that the truly dangerous candidates are kept out of power.

        You may find that cynical, but certainly when the elected individual will be given the ability to do great harm (e.g. will have the nucle

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      When I first mentioned to my parents that an idiot like Palin could never win, they pointed out that I was too young to remember what an idiot everyone thought Reagan was in 1976.

  • Seems reasonable (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gustgr (695173) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .anidnor.> on Sunday October 31, 2010 @12:51PM (#34080616) Homepage

    Today Brazilians are electing their new President. It is the second turn of our elections so we get to choose between the two candidates for the presidential chair which were most voted in the first turn that occurred one month ago.

    The candidates are Jose Serra (current opposition) and Dilma Rousseff (candidate supported by the current President). According to a simple "volumetric" serach on Google, Serra has 47% and Rousseff has 53%. These predictions are somewhat similar to what polls and public opinion surveys have been showing (reckoning only the valid votes). Tonight we will have the final results and I will be amazed if this Google prediction so to speak turns out to be more accurate than official polls.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Are those results with google.com or google.br (is that the right TLD?)? Wonder if there is a difference.

  • The input potentially is not coming from a representative sample of the voters, but from the people that is willing to search for it, if the voters for one of the options are more probable to do that than the ones for the other option (for direct or indirect reasons).
  • did other people read the title at first glance as 'Predecting erection results with google"?

  • A political campaign is all about telling the voters what they want to hear, in the hopes enough people believe them and will vote for them. Google searches are a great way to do the market research to determine this.

    The catch is that while a political candidate's running platform is based on what he thinks voters want, it is generally a poor indicator of what he'll actually do in office. Often the platform is centered around things the candidate won't even have control over once in office. For example,

  • Interest in different races and resolutions on ballots doesn't indicate results. How many people searching the Web will even show up to vote? How many are getting wrong info from the pages they found? How many are aligned with opposition looking for negative info on something on the ballot?

    Even turnout can't be predicted, let alone results.

Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis. It makes sense, when you don't think about it.

Working...