Google searches aren’t always accurate bellwethers of what’s happening. Its website for predicting flu outbreaks has been discontinued, after claims it was exaggerating appearances of the virus.
But when it comes to Canada’s election, Google nailed it.
Jason Kirby at Maclean’s took a look at Google search data running up to the federal election and found that the search interest numbers had predicted the parliamentary seat count almost perfectly.
Again, based on Google searches for leaders on Oct 17: LPC 189 CPC 108 NDP 34
Falls apart below: Green 7, BQ 0 pic.twitter.com/Hs5h52KJc9
— Jason Kirby (@jason_kirby) October 20, 2015
When we tried to recreate Kirby’s results, we got different numbers, but almost exactly the same proportions. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau got 55.8 per cent of Google search queries, when matched against the four other party leaders. Assuming the projection of 188 seats is correct, Trudeau will have won 55.6 per cent of seats in Parliament.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper got 31.8 per cent of searches for party leaders in Google, and was on track to win 30.1 per cent of seats in Parliament.
Thomas Mulcair got 10.05 per cent of Google searches, and won 11.5 per cent of seats in Parliament.
That’s definitely more accurate than the polls, which in the last days had the Liberals at around 35 or 36 per cent support, and projections were calling for a minority Liberal government. (Nanos Research had the Liberals at 39 per cent in their last poll, but even that didn’t accurately predict the Liberal juggernaut.)
So next time around, election watchers might just forego the unreliable polls, and spend their time checking Google Trends.