Tuesday 2nd of June 2020 11:37:53 PM GMT

Poll Saying John Cox Is Competitive With Gavin Newsom In California Governor’s Race Is Wrong – See Google Trends

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(Last Updated On: December 29, 2018)

UPDATE: Gavin Newsom vs John Cox California Governor Race 2018 – Berkeley-IGS Poll Right, But Was Google Trends Wrong?

UPDATE: Gavin Newsom increases his lead, as Villaraigosa, once with a 12-point lead over Allen, is now just three points ahead, with John Chiang and John Cox still at 4 and 4 respectively.

UPDATE: Antonio Villaraigosa and Travis Allen Now Tied For Second In 2018 California Governor’s Race – Google Trends

RELATED: Google Trends works for national and state campaigns, but will it apply to the California Assembly District 15 Race? Zennie62Media takes a look.

The headlines are all over (see The Sacramento Bee and The LA Times) that John H. Cox, Republican candidate for California Governor and a business man, has risen out of the blue (or more appropriately the red) and into second place to the front-runner Democratic California Liutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

In a UC Berkeley Intergovernmental Studies (also called “Berkeley-IGS”) poll comparing GOP and Dems vying for the seat currently held by Jerry Brown, and conducted April 16th – April 22nd, Fox received 18 percent of the votes, Newsom was at a comfortable 30 percent, and Assemblyman Travis Allen, the other California GOP participant, got 16 percent, while former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) California State Treasurer and former Controller John Chiang (D) and the former California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin posted lousy results of 9, 7, and 4 percent, respectively.

So, from that Berkeley-IGS Poll, the Democrats running for CA Governor are in a big pile of California horse patoody, right? President Donald Trump’s talking up John Cox has really change the game, right? This John Cox guy’s suddenly a house-hold name, and may be the greatest Republican Governor since Arnold Schwartzenegger, right? Well, according to data from Google Trends, those ideas are a fantasy, and the results of the Berkeley-IGS Poll are a laughable joke.

Google Trends has emerged from it’s obscure place of popularity only with data-hungry vloggers and bloggers, starting in 2007 (and this author has pointed to changes in Google News over the years with some consistency, though upon reflection has slacked off some of late, has several useful posts from, for example 2011, and on the removal of “Hot Topics”

In recent years, and starting with the 2016 election, Internet marketers (yes, Internet marketers, not political pollsters) started to wonder how Google Trends did in predicting elections. As it turned out, not just OK, but really, really well. According to Jim Stewart of StewArt media, Google Trends correctly picked the winner of the U.S. Presidential Election each time, and going all the way back to 2004. Basically, the question is, who’s ahead on the three to five days before the election to be held?

In short, Google Trends was a geek tool, but now it’s a reliable tool for use in politics, but not used by politicians. Before we get to why that may be, let’s find out how the candidates did from Google Trends’ perspective.

Well, the short report is that it’s Allen and not Cox the Democrats have to worry about. Have a look:


A Google Trends comparison between Newsom, Cox, Allen, Villaraigosa, and Chiang, (with the timeline set at 12 months) show all of them beat and are ahead of Fox by healthy search intensity margins: Gavin has 95, Allen 35, Villaraigosa 28, and John Chiang 21 – John Cox is at 6. In fact, John Cox’s scoring is so poor, and during a period where the polling would imply that he’s well searched on Google, that in a separate comparison, Delaine Eastin is beating him 90 to 72.

But the news here is Assemblyman Travis Allen is the real second place candidate, and not Fox. This means that, come this Tuesday June 5th, we should expect Allen to perform in such a way that he could finish second, behind Gavin Newsom. And considering that Assemblyman Allen has traded places, second and third with Villaraigosa, the Former Mayor of LA could wind up in the second spot, after all.

But one thing’s for sure: it won’t be Fox. Now for that question why Google Trends isn’t referred to by political specialists, it’s simply because many political consultants and media types at the state level aren’t tech-savvy. The experience of this blogger is that many candidates don’t really understand how to employ SAAS tools like Google Trends, and so don’t know to seek out political specialists who do. There’s an over-reliance on traditional off-line polling that tends to crowd out the idea of using tools common to the field of Internet marketing. Yet, from content to social media to video, the future of each candidate depends on what they do online as well as offline. This is something Gavin Newsom’s people missed.

They seemed to think that just a series of ads would move the recognition needle for Fox. Well, it did, but not by as much as poll reports would imply. The reason is, there’s no controversial subject that Cox is attached to, such that his Google Trends numbers would skyrocket. To make that happen requires a campaign that has, as part of its overall approach, coordinated online content separate but related to the ads and speeches. Newsom didn’t do that, and there’s no time left to get that going.

Stay tuned.

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Zennie Abraham
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