The past month has seen an astounding rise in public interest around Donald Trump — at least according to Google search data.
Keep in mind that we're still in the midst of a primary, and we're still more than 30 weeks away from the general election. But if you compare the volume of people searching for Trump versus other presidential candidates in the Google era, it isn't even close.
The only real comparison is Barack Obama's historic campaign in 2008. At the start of the contest, Obama pulled out a victory in the Iowa caucuses after trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls for months, and only then was he getting more search interest than Trump at the same point in the election.
But as the campaign season has moved forward, Trump has seen an unprecedented amount of Google search interest in his campaign.
Trump has not only been able to sustain public interest for a much longer period, but he's been able to milk storylines that keep him in the news and keep the general public increasingly interested.
In short, he has been able to manufacture storylines even when nothing is happening. It's almost as if he's done this professionally before.
(Note: A 100 on this chart equals the search volume in 2008 after Obama was elected president.)
Way more people want to know about Trump than Clinton, Sanders, or Cruz
Trump really started to separate himself from the pack in the past few weeks, when his search volume exploded exponentially. This was around the time Trump dominated Super Tuesday, feuded with Pope Francis, struggled to answer questions about the Ku Klux Klan, and defended his beautiful hands.
The search volume has since died down, but it's still more than double where Obama was in 2008 — and in a different stratosphere compared with this cycle's candidates.
For example, look at this chart that compares Trump's search volume with that of Hillary Clinton:
And Trump's main rival, Ted Cruz, doesn't stand a chance in this popularity contest. He did get a bump, however, when he feuded with Trump about their respective wives, although that bump — at 33 weeks before the election — can only really be seen in daily search data, and not the weekly data we're visualizing in these charts. Plus, it seems like Cruz's search volume is returning back to normal.
The only candidate that has even come close to Trump-esque interest is Bernie Sanders, and that was about six weeks ago, in the midst of the first few primary elections and Sanders's first primary win in New Hampshire:
But while Sanders is doing about as well as Obama in 2008, his search volume pales in comparison with Trump's in the past few weeks.
What we Google when we Google Trump
So what are people searching for when they Google Donald Trump? When people search for most other candidates, the top searches also include their rivals — like "Sanders Clinton" or "Cruz Trump."
For Trump, the top search term is: "is Donald Trump."
Here's what Google suggests when you type that in:
And the second-most-popular search:
donald trump wife