clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

After Super Tuesday, Americans are frantically Googling “move to Canada”

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

It's a time-honored tradition of US presidential elections: Americans threatening to flee to Canada if their favored candidate loses.

But after Donald Trump won big on Super Tuesday, carrying seven out of 11 states, Americans took that ritual to new lengths. The Canadian government's official immigration website apparently received so much traffic that it had to post a warning about slowdowns.

Here's what the site for Immigration and Citizenship Canada (CIC) looked like around midnight. Note the warning about delays on the top:

This warning remained on the site on Wednesday morning, though I didn't experience any delays trying to use the site.

Now, it's possible this was scheduled maintenance or some other problem — I've reached out to CIC to ask about the cause of the slowdown. But one data point suggests it's at least possible the slowdown was driven by Americans: US-based Google searches for "move to Canada" (the most popular Canadian immigration-related search term) reached their highest point in more than 10 years last night:

(Google Trends)

The previous two peaks were in October 2008 and November 2012 — the last two presidential elections.

A closer look at the past week shows search volume peaking after the results came in on Tuesday night, then slowing a bit on Wednesday morning:

(Google Trends)

Relative to the 2008 and 2012 peaks, which occurred very late in the election, it's still early. If Donald Trump keeps racking up wins, it looks likely that adding "Canadian" to your online dating profile will make you a hell of a lot more attractive to certain Americans.

That said, it's worth having some perspective here. The previous graphs show search results going back a decade, to 2006. But if you look all the way back to 2004, you see something surprising — a previous peak way, way, way beyond anything since:

(Google Trends)

That shows the spike in "move to Canada" searches in November 2004, when George W. Bush won reelection. Of course, these aren't comparing one-to-one internet searches, but rather the proportion of internet searches at that time. The internet was much younger and smaller back in 2004, so the absolute number of "move to Canada" searches may well have been lower.

Still, it's a reminder that this isn't the first mass American emigration threat, and it probably won't be the last.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.