Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney Fight for Votes, and Google Searches

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Winslow Townson/AP Photo

So Newt Gingrich has taken a sizable lead in the polls with less than a month to go before the Iowa caucuses, with 33 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers currently favoring Gingrich for the GOP nomination, compared to 18 percent apiece for Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.   That's the principal finding in the newest ABC News/Washington Post poll, released this morning.

If you were on the staff of the Google Politics & Elections Team, you could have predicted that. Google says its searches trend the same way polls do, a little before the polls come out.

On a Google blog, Jake Parrillo of their politics team posts graphs of the number of searches for Gingrich and Romney, and says the debate Nov. 9 was a turning point.  That night was probably most famous for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's now-famous "brain freeze," when he blanked out on what was the third government department he would eliminate - but Parrillo says it was a breakout night for Gingrich.

"With Herman Cain's pivot from Republican frontrunner to campaign after-thought, Google's Insights for Search tools is showing former Speaker Newt Gingrich stepping into the void and accelerating his momentum - just as formalized polling data indicates," he said.

More from Google's Parrillo:

  • "Gingrich has recently taken the lead in searches; beginning in early November, the former Speaker has captured the attention of the country and has taken the search lead in the four early states.
  • "Interest in Mitt Romney is on a strong upward trajectory since December 1, indicating that American searchers are narrowing their choices to Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich."

Do the number of searches for a candidate clearly predict success at the polls? It's not that simple, of course, but statisticians have shown a clear correlation - on Google, Twitter and elsewhere - between a candidate's popularity and the amount of online traffic he or she generates.