Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Web Searches and the Iowa Caucus: Update

Daily Google Insights index scores from Iowa are now available for January 1. They show that Rick Santorum has moved into 2nd place in the web search primary. Google Insights scores for the five leading Republican presidential candidates are:

Ron Paul---70
Rick Santorum---32
Mitt Romney---22
Rick Perry---15
Newt Gingrich---13

Once again, assuming that the other candidates in the Iowa race will get about 10% of the Caucus vote between them and that Google Insights scores are directly comparable to levels of electoral support, these data indicate the following vote percentages (with projections based on last week's Google Insights index scores in parentheses).

Ron Paul---41% (45%)
Rick Santorum---21% (10%)
Mitt Romney---14% (14%)
Rick Perry---9% (10%)
Newt Gingrich---8% (10%)

The figures capture both the strong surge in support for Rick Santorum which has been evident in the polls and the continued collapse of Newt Gingrich.

In contrast, polls show a much closer contest between Romney and Paul for the Iowa win, with Romney holding a slight advantage. ARG's latest poll, which concluded on January 1, indicates:
Mitt Romney leads the Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus with 22%. Following closely, Ron Paul is in second place at 17%, Rick Santorum is in third place at 16%, and Newt Gingrich is in fourth place at 15%.
Likewise, Intrade's current market for election futures indicates that Romney is the most likely winner of the Iowa Caucus. Current prices for the Iowa Caucus future indicates that Romney's probability of winning the Caucus is 51.6% with Ron Paul (27.0%) and Rick Santorum (20.4%) assigned nontrivial prospects of winning. The Intrade market has little faith in either Gingrich (0.5% chance of winning) or Perry (0.2% chance of winning) pulling off a comeback.

Update: I just found this bit from a report on Iowa State University's Poll, released December 22:
A new Iowa State University/Gazette/KCRG poll of 333 likely Iowa Republican caucus goers finds Ron Paul in the top spot among GOP presidential candidates with 27.5 percent, followed closely by Newt Gingrich with 25.3 percent. Paul's lead over Gingrich is within the poll's margin of error at plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Mitt Romney is in third place at 17.5 percent, while Rick Perry is the only other candidate to poll in double digits at 11.2.

While Paul's lead is just over 2 percentage points and easily within the poll's margin of error, it may actually be more solid than it appears.

"What our poll says is that 51 percent of Paul's supporters say they're definitely backing him," said James McCormick, professor and chair of political science at Iowa State and coordinator of the poll. "The percentage for the next two candidates is much weaker, at 16.1 for Mitt Romney and 15.2 for Newt Gingrich. Moreover, the percentage of respondents 'leaning to' or 'still undecided' in their support for these latter two candidates remains high, at 58 percent for Gingrich and 38 percent for Romney. In other words, I'm going to make the case that these numbers are still very soft for those two candidates."

"I think Paul probably under-polls," said Dave Peterson, interim director of the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at Iowa State and associate professor of political science who assisted with the poll. "His supporters are younger and more likely to reply on a cell phone, so he's probably going to perform better than his polling suggests. His supporters also are dedicated and will likely turn out on caucus night and not change their minds."
The Dave Peterson quoted is none other than Aggie PoliSci Legend David A. M. Peterson, by the way.


  1. I had a couple of minutes today to look at the Iowa caucus in 2008 and the Google data back then: considering the last 5 days before the primaries and the simple 3-days moving averages in those days, I found that the median ratio between the Google data for Ron Paul and the final result for him was approx 0.5, while the median ratio between the Google data for Mitt Romney and the final result for him was approx 1.1:


    If we apply these corrections data to the current Google data, Ron Paul would be close to 20% , while Romney to 18%. This would also mean that Santorum and the rest would take a lot more votes.

    While this can be absolutely possible, the situation today is somewhat different than in 2008:

    - the internet penetration was smaller back then

    - If we look at the Google data, Huckabee was always in the first positions, if not the first. Moreover, in the final week he was in front.
    This is not the case today for Santorum or other candidates.

    - Comparing the Google data today and in 2008, Romney is weaker today than in 2008, while the reverse is true for Paul, which has (almost) always been in front of the group of candidates.

    Anyway,let's way and see.

  2. Last update from Google up to January the 2nd


    For the first place, it is now a race between Paul, Romney and Santorum. If I had to choose, I would say Paul as 1st,Santorum as 2nd and Romney as 3rd.