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2017 General Election: key search trends

2017 General Election: key search trends

Friday, June 09, 2017

This morning in Britain we woke to the news of a hung parliament, with the Conservatives having failed to secure a majority vote. There will be lots to play for in the coming days, and search data can reveal intriguing insights into initial public reaction to the result, along with what’s concerning voters the most.

Using Google Trends election search round-up, we can see that despite the Conservative’s securing the largest share of seats (and votes), Labour is the most searched for party this morning, representing almost half of overall UK searches for the five most searched for political parties. Interestingly, UK searches relating to Labour reached peak popularity at 2am this morning, while searches for the Conservative Party had begun to wane since 10pm on 8th June.

Scotland, as expected, paints a very different picture (see below), with 45% of searches seeking information on the Scottish National Party. Below this, Labour sits in second place, scooping a quarter of searches from this region, and the Conservative Party taking just 14% of Scottish searches. It’s interesting how this compares to today’s result, with the SNP losing 21 seats across Scotland, and the Tories returning 13 MPs to the region.

When it comes searches relating to party leaders, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has consistently held poll position since the beginning of June, until this morning, when Theresa May leapt ahead into first place.

It comes as little surprise that in terms of trending issues, ‘what’s a hung parliament?’ is the number one question being ‘Googled’, reaching an all-time peak at 6am this morning. Interest in this issue is fairly consistent across all UK regions, with greatest interest (by a small margin) among searchers in England. Other related questions being asked of Google include ‘what happens in a hung parliament?’, ‘will there be a hung parliament?’ and ‘who is prime minister in a hung parliament?’ At the time of writing, the #hungparliament hashtag was also trending in first position on Twitter.

Tax and housing have been the UK’s top searched political issues over the past week. However, Google’s interactive map of most searched for political issues by constituency shows that over the past six months, the NHS and EU/Brexit have overall emerged as the biggest issues of concern through search behaviour.

To consider some alternative data, ComScore’s Cross Visiting report for the five main parties’ websites revealed some indecision among voters, with online users flitting between party websites. For example:

  • 13.9% of those who visit the Conservative website then go on to visit Labour’s
  • 17.8% of Labour site visitors also visit the Conservatives’
  • Those who visit the UKIP website show the largest tendency for cross-party browsing, with 33.4% also visiting the Conservative site, 33.8% visiting Labour, 23.8% Lib Dems and 7.9% SNP

Google data supports this indecision, with ‘who should I vote for?’ being the top question searched for by voters over the past 7 days. ‘Who won the debate’ emerges as the third most popular question being asked of Google, relating to the BBC’s leadership debate, broadcast on 31st May, indicating that searchers were seeking assurance from this result.

Search is clearly a very important part of politics today, filling an educative role for Britain’s voters. Although Google couldn’t necessarily have predicted this morning’s shock result, political parties should be paying attention to the issues and questions that are currently driving search behaviour in Britain.

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