Depending on where you get your news, the 2016 presidential election is already a shoe in for one candidate or another. If you read the New York Times, Hilary Clinton has it in the bag, has been destined to do this since birth, and anyone who tries standing in her way is wasting their time. If you watch Fox News, the whole Democratic Party has been disgraced by Obama’s allegedly poor legacy, and 2016 will usher in the return of the Bush dynasty in the form of one Floridian named Jeb. If you read the Huffington Post, it’s all about the rise of dark horse candidate Bernie Sanders, the Social Democrat from Vermont who’s working up a fervor of grassroots support all over the country.
But then there’s data, and The Donald. Despite how it might seem, the hard numbers show that Donald Trump owns this election right now by a long shot – or at least trumps the other candidates on the public interest front. Using search data from Google Trends, we mapped out relative search volume for the five top candidates since Ted Cruz officially started the race in March. Each one gets a bump when they announce their candidacy, and then it’s a story of Trump taking over the whole thing. The best part of visualizing the data (and maybe the scariest?) is watching Trump’s bubble get bigger and bigger.
Of course, volume of Google searches doesn’t mean the same thing as number of supporters. “Public interest” can go in different directions – no doubt, many people are watching Trump’s campaign like a train wreck, simply unable to turn away from the spectacle, while others love to hate him, and still others are just passively absorbing top trending news.
Still, it’s fun to take a stab at interpretation. What are your thoughts? Let us know on Twitter: @firmex.