Google helping researchers unlock political secrets

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Research suggests that our political persuasion is linked to our identity.  NPR reported on Jan. 2 that Google finds patterns before government or academic researchers do.  It’s a tool anyone can use.

For example, last winter Google could track the spread of influenza across the nation by watching how people used its search engine.  As the illness spread, search terms changed from the usual celebrities, food, and shopping, including terms such as fever, influenza, and when to see the doctor.

A search correlating the words prominent liberal commentators such as Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert with weight loss yields the results arugula, beets, fennel and vegetarian, the stereotypes many Republicans may hold of liberals.

Using conservative commentators such as Charles Krauthammer and Bill O’Reilly to correlate with weight loss yields results like dieting, weight loss pills, and prescription weight loss, the stereotypes Democrats may hold of conservatives.

Researchers conclude that political consultants can exploit Google correlate tools to their advantage.  If hosting an event for liberals, vegetarian fare would be popular.  Conversely, for the Red Guys, traditional American apple pie topped with real whipped cream or a slice of Wisconsin cheddar would wow them.

— Wendy Risk, SaintPetersBlog correspondent 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.