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Searching for a hung Parliament?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 14:00 UK time, Wednesday, 14 April 2010

We've seen how keen the parties, and in particular the Conservatives, have been to place adverts next to Google searches.

Screengrab Google searchNow the company has published data which should help political campaigners work out what type of searches are particularly hot right now.

The data for the first week of the election campaign shows a big rise in political searches.

The headlines are that David Cameron is narrowly ahead of Gordon Brown - in terms of the number of searches.

But Vince Cable of the Liberal Democrats is more sought out than either George Osborne or Alistair Darling.

And it seems that voters are quite interested in the idea that the election won't provide a clear winner - "hung parliament" queries shot up by 233% to an all-time high, just ahead of searches for Nick Clegg.

Other popular searches were "Chris Grayling", up 525%, and "digital economy bill", which rose by 614% and for a brief moment was a more popular search term than "Afghanistan".

You can do your own analysis of Google search trends on the firm's site.

So plenty of food for thought for party campaigners seeking to place adverts.

The Liberal Democrats, though, with more limited funds than Labour or the Conservatives, may choose not to give their cash to Google. They have found an inventive way to get their election manifesto - or at least a few highlights - to the more tech-savvy voter.

On their website there is an option to build your own video, choosing three policy areas that interest you most, then seeing Nick Clegg talk about them.

They've worked the same trick in a free iPhone app that puts a video on your phone. The Lib Dems have been slower than the other parties in bringing out a smartphone app - but then again their effort does look rather smarter.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Rory,

    Your last 10 blogs have been about politics, can we get back to technology? If I want to read about politics, I read a politics blog. I expect to read about technology on a technology blog, and something new, less of the Twitter, Google, Apple ad nauseum. What about the WePad for example.

  • Comment number 2.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Rory,

    I'm concerned that Google provide no absolute volumes for these trends - the data is 'scaled' and 'normalised'.

    I'm also, generally, sceptical about the use of large percentage rises. Such figures tend to demonstrate a large increase over a trivial base. The sort of thing that should not usually impress. The sort of thing that politicians wheel out to try and hoodwink the unwary. The sort of numbers you should stay well clear of.

    So, say, one week 50 people search for a term, the next week (following extensive news coverage) 357 search for the term. This gives you your 614% increase [ 357-50 = 307 : 307/50 = 6.14 = 614% ]

    But so what? With a population of 60+million and assume, for a moment, only 1% are interested gives 600,000 people - and you end up with a very small percentage that *may* have sought the term. This is ,merely 0.0006% - oh dear! Did I just use a spurious percentage? DOH!

    Paul.

  • Comment number 4.


    "The data for the first week of the election campaign shows a big rise in political searches.

    The headlines are that David Cameron is narrowly ahead of Gordon Brown - in terms of the number of searches."

    ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


    Apart from five gold rings,four calling birds,three french hens, two turtle doves and a partyrage in an 0pair tree ,what else did the inspectors of the law find up their sleeves.



  • Comment number 5.

    Rory,

    I find it amusing that RedLinuxHacker doesn't think you should be talking about politics on a Technology blog, particularly in light of the Digital Economy Act. You know, that little bit of clumsily written legislation that's going to define how we use technology in this county unless its seriously amended/scrapped.

    I'm just saying...

  • Comment number 6.

    Sorry, typo there. Should read "... this country unless it's seriously amended/scrapped."

  • Comment number 7.

    OK, so 2 out of the 10 blogs were about the political/technological impact of the Digital Economy Bill, fair comment. It could be argued that the other 8 are more suited to a political blog, leaving room for what's happening in the technology world. And there's so much happening beyond Twitter, Google, Apple. For example: what is Oracle going to do with MySQL, will the WePad challenge the iPad? Are we going to get a Linux review when Fedora 13 and Ubuntu 10.04 are released shortly? Why is it so difficult to have a choice of operating system when you buy a new computer in this country?

  • Comment number 8.

    @ 1. At 3:55pm on 14 Apr 2010, RedLinuxHacker wrote:
    Hi Rory,

    Your last 10 blogs have been about politics, can we get back to technology? If I want to read about politics, I read a politics blog. I expect to read about technology on a technology blog, and something new, less of the Twitter, Google, Apple ad nauseum. What about the WePad for example.


    My reply:
    I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking this. Though personally I've always found his blogs to have been poor at understanding the actual technology he's reporting on, at least his previous blogs were IT related.

    Maybe the BBC should be looking for a new technology blogger?
    Perhaps Bill Thompson should be given more space given his skill at expressing his thoughts and impressive IT experience?

  • Comment number 9.

    Rory:

    Yes, thanks for allocating us the audience regarding a hung parliament!

    (D)

 

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