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The most Googled Republican candidate in every state, mapped

Update: Coverage of second Republican debate.

Google data from June and July reveals the utter dominance of wealthy nativist Donald Trump over every other GOP presidential candidate, at least for searches:

This interactive map by Google News Lab collected anonymous search data in more than 10,000 US cities; the areas in gray represent where there was not enough data to merit displaying. The most-searched candidate (who is also a Donald Trump) is represented by an individual color, divided among thousands of US counties.

Google did something like this with UK elections data, but this is the first map of its kind about US political candidates. Google News Lab intends to publish a similar map about the top Democratic candidates later this year.

Trump is search king essentially everywhere, except, strikingly, Wisconsin, whose governor, Scott Walker, is a locally popular search (shown in light orange, below):

Even in Hawaii and Alaska, Trump trumps (the purple is for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul):

Google searches, June - July 2015, for 2016 GOP candidates in Alaska. Google News Labs

Google searches, June–July 2015, for 2016 GOP candidates in Alaska and Hawaii. (Google News Labs)

A world without Trump

If you look beyond Trump, you see a much more mixed set of data that shows a variety of regional preferences for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (in green), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (orange), Dr. Ben Carson (light blue), and even Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (dark blue).

Did Google just predict the next president?

There is no reason to believe that Google searches, or any internet content like Facebook shares or tweets using a hashtag, positively correlate to voter intent. Still, brand recognition is a two-edged sword in politics. If voters don't recognize a candidate's name, his or her candidacy will die on the vine long before Election Day. If Americans are Googling to understand why Donald Trump was dumped by UnivisionNBC, and Macy's, among other things, as was likely the case in June, then this search interest might signal a negative correlation.

This data may reflect that Donald Trump is simply the most controversial GOP candidate, but it's not quite fair to conclude he is not of serious voter interest because of it. As Google's work on the UK elections showed, user searches exposed how much pollsters underestimated the strength of conservative candidates. All hail President Trump?

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