We’re just hours away from the polls opening, finally putting an end to what has been a divisive campaign.
Most pollsters have pegged the race as “too close to call,” but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to read the tea leaves and predict what will happen Tuesday.
One way to do that is to have a look at what people are Googling the night before the election.
First and foremost, we must acknowledge trying to pull meaning out of these stats comes with inherrent drawbacks.
First off, Google Trends does not allow searches at a level below “Canada” as a whole – meaning we’re looking at what Canadians are searching for, not just British Columbians.
MAP: Which B.C ridings saw the highest advance voting turnout?
Secondly, there’s absolutely no way to know whether the person doing the search is doing so with positive or negative thoughts about the subject matter. This must be kept in mind at all times.
We’re also unable to see exactly how many individual searches were conducted; Google tracks the data on a scale that measures relative volume of a search term, not searches per-se.
However, those caveats aside, it does provide us with some insight into what’s on people’s minds as they prepare to head to the polls.
With those (admittedly hefty) grains of salt firmly in hand, let’s have a look at what people have been searching on Google in the final week of the election.
All three parties have seen spikes of different sizes in the past 24 hours, with much more pronounced search volume for the NDP and the Liberals in the dying hours of the day.
Searches for the Green party’s platform appears to have remained low and static over the last week, while searchers have been Googling the Liberal platform a little more, with a spike in the final few hours. The NDP has seen the most searches for its platform, with a big bump coming in the late hours of Monday.
When it comes to leaders, the trend is reversed from searches for the party’s platforms. BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark has seen by far the highest volume of searches in the last week, with pronounced spikes daily. The dying hours of Monday have seen those searches spike to their highest levels all week. Both NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver have seen an uptick in search activity Monday night, but at a far reduced level.
Who should I vote for?
Before looking at this chart, a caveat. The above searches were all done in quotation marks in order to limit the search to the exact term “in quotations.” Google Trends failed to turn up a result under that method. Entering the terms without them produced a three-way split in searches, but whether it is a reliable outcome could be questioned.
Finally, one of the hottest topics of debate going into Tuesday’s uncertain election is whether it will produce a majority government, or whether no party will capture enough seats to rule supreme, forcing a hung legislature.
It’s apparently on voters minds Monday night, as search activity for the concept of a minority government has been present all week, and has spiked in the final 48 hours of the campaign.
Whether these results can tell us anything about who will form government after polls close Tuesday is an open question, but they certainly provide some food for thought for the political junkie.
If you’re curious to play around with the tools yourself, you can plug search terms into Google Trends yourself, here.