LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Observers, campaigns, and candidates are all trying to get a clearer insight into how people will vote in next week’s midterm elections. But polls can be flawed.
You’ve probably received the calls, maybe the emails, or even text messages from pollsters trying to get a flavor of how you’re going to vote. But while you can tell them one thing, your Google search shows something else.
“Google searches should reflect a candidate’s entire efforts over their lifetime. Their actual brand awareness and the way in which voters perceive them,” said CEO Skylar White, unumAI.
His Denver company uses publicly available Google trend data to capture the political interests of every race in the nation.
“There’s nothing personally identifiable. It’s just a way to understand how people are behaving,” he said.
It highlights which candidates are getting the most attention online. White said the more searches a candidate gets, the better they will do. And it seems to work.
“In the 2020 election cycle, we predicted all U.S. Senate races throughout the country that had polling data available twice as accurately. We were off less than a percentage point for every single candidate,” White said.
Here is White’s research on Nevada’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races. UnamAI produced these graphics on Friday.
The graph above shows incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto started in the lead, fell behind Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in September but has closed the gap again in this close race.
Incumbent Governor Steve Sisolak’s lead in April is now gone. Republican Joe Lombardo now has a small lead.
“That’s way more accessible and way more socially acceptable to research online than to tell someone you don’t know who’s calling to ask if you believe in conspiracies,” White said.
Traditional pollsters are a little skeptical. After all, how do you know if the person Google searching is a registered voter or even old enough to take part?
Still, it’s information they’re already using in campaigns. In eight days, we’ll see how close Google gets.