Monday, March 9, 2009

Google Trends & Proposition 8

This comes from the Wikipedia article for Google Trends:

"Google Trends shows how often a particular search term is entered relative the total search volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.  Below the main graph, popularity is broken down by region, city and language. It is possible to refine the main graph by region and time period."

The above graph comes from Google Trends and lists the top ten cites that searched the term "Proposition 8" in 2008.

Some questions that come to my mind:

-Logic would assume that Californians would be the most interested in a Californian ballot measure.  Why then are the top two cities in Utah, NOT California?
-Why was "Proposition 8" Googled in Provo dramatically more than any other city, including Salt Lake?
-How does this list compare to the LDS Church's assertion that, monetarily-speaking, its contributions to the passage of Proposition 8 were "...less than one half of one percent of the total funds raised for the "Yes on 8" campaign."?

That's all.


Abelard Enigma said...

Interesting - but I'm surprised that I'm NOT surprised by this.

There was a fair amount of focus by church leaders to appeal to young adults; and, I'm sure it was a hot topic of conversation on the BYU campus - so it's really not that surprising that Provo had significantly higher numbers than SLC.

But, I doubt there is any correlation between google trends and monetary donations.

Chester said...

Abelard: "But, I doubt there is any correlation between google trends and monetary donations."

Given. I was stretching a little to make a tie there. But the spirit of it is - the church can drop the facade that it's influence in Prop. 8 passing was minimal.

Provo, a city with a population 30 times smaller than L.A., had well over twice it's searches for Prop 8.

It impressed me. And it says SOMETHING. Maybe something obvious and something we already know and understand; but I don't think it should be dismissed with a "So What?".

Abelard Enigma said...

I do agree that the LDS church exerted major influence on the passage of proposition 8 and is being disingenuous in trying to minimize its involvement; however, I just think we need to be careful trying to draw a correlation between what Mormon's in Utah are doing in their private time and how Mormon's in California voted.

You also have to be careful in how to interepret the numbers. Did Provo have twice as many porn searches as L.A.? Or did they have twice the rate per capita as L.A. - I strongly suspect the latter. It still doesn't speak very highly of Provo - but it does paint a different picture.

Chester said...

Ok, ok. I like asking open ended questions, and most times I don't have an solid opinion about anything; or at least, opinions I stick with even after they obviously run out of gas.

Not that I'm implying anything about your arguments. I think they're valid.

People are going to interpret the numbers how they will and routinely use the same set of numbers to effectively argue opposite viewpoints.

It's funny you bring up the google trends "pornography" story that ran not too long ago. When I ask myself, "Why are so many Utahans searching google for the term "pornography"? The obvious (or seemingly obvious) reason is more people in Utah are LOOKING at pornography than anywhere else (per capita or else). I don't think so. What that says to me is more people in Utah are PREOCCUPIED with pornography, and the high search hits are more likely from hits that include other words such as "help fighting" or "eliminating". Try putting "Porn" in google trends and you get a completely different set of metrics.

I don't think the per capita thing is correct. If it was, then we'd be getting random small towns with populations of 12 people with really high numbers at the top, right?

My bottom line inference on "Proposition 8" searches in google - people in Utah were disproportionately preoccupied with a ballot measure in California.

And this is where everybody says, "No shit Chester!"

Gypsy said...

Hey Chester,

Do a google trend search for "proposition 8" and you will find the top two cities that searched for that exact term are in Utah. Which supports your post. However, if you do a google trend search for "prop 8" you will see that the top 10 cities that searched for that exact term are ALL in California.

This really just suggests is that people in Utah, for whatever reason, like to write "proposition" instead of "prop".

However, your point that "people in Utah were disproportionately preoccupied with a ballot measure in California" still stands because it is clear a shit load of people in Utah did search for prop 8 related stuff. In fact there might have been more searches for prop 8 related stuff originating from Utah than all of California.

My point is that you used the wrong statistics to prove your point and in the proses you used statistics that were shocking but not totally accurate. It would have been better to do a google trend search for "prop 8, proposition 8" and "proposition 8, prop 8". This would have given you more accurate data.