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How Media Interest In The GOP Candidates Compares To Public Interest

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced his candidacy for president Wednesday, and, if he’s anything like the other Republicans who have officially entered the race, that means news stories about him and Google searches for him will peak this week and then drop off dramatically.

The chart above shows the volume of articles on Google News about each of the 13 announced Republican candidates and three other likely contenders, superimposed with the total Google searches for each of them, from the first week of January through last week. For both news stories and searches, the values shown are relative to the maximum for the period covered: about 7,100 articles about Donald Trump1 last week and some really high number of searches for Trump, also last week (Google doesn’t disclose absolute search volume).

Two things to note: Every candidate got a significant bump the week he or she announced. More interesting, there’s a difference between media buzz and public interest. For instance, Jeb Bush — the closest candidate Republicans have to a front-runner — was written about thoroughly the week of his announcement, but searches for him never reached half of the volume they did for Ted Cruz, who garnered much less media coverage.

Some other observations:

  • Presidential newcomers have generated more public interest than familiar faces. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul were searched for more than Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry, who have all run for president before.
  • Most candidates saw a fairly similar ratio of news coverage to search interest during their announcement. Cruz and Trump were clear exceptions with more search than news interest, and Bush, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Perry and Santorum went the other way.
  • Neither the press nor the people have had much interest in John Kasich so far, even though he is arguably in the fourth-best position of any candidate.
  • Even before Chris Christie’s announcement, the media seem a lot more enthralled with him than the people are, relative to the other candidates.
  • Paul is receiving the same media coverage relative to searches as the other candidates (if not a little more at times), even if some libertarians are worried that he isn’t.
  • There isn’t necessarily a correlation between news coverage or searches and polling. Huckabee is polling well, but he didn’t get major bumps in either search or coverage during his announcement. Meanwhile, Bush, Cruz, Paul and Rubio are polling well and did get the bumps in coverage and interest.

Footnotes

  1. Syndicated articles are counted more than once, so this doesn’t mean there were more than 7,000 unique stories about Trump.

Ritchie King is senior editor for data visualization at FiveThirtyEight.

Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.

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