Which political party is winning at Google (Trends)?
Pakistan General Elections 2018 are looming near the finish line. With just five days to go, election fever has hit full hype. The unforeseen events building up to the polling day have contributed to some unexpected survey findings and analysis.
With the internet access, Google is our means to stay updated with the latest political happenings. Here, we thought of identifying and visualizing search interests pertaining to the upcoming elections by leveraging Google Trends.
We have picked up data via Google Trends, belonging to the three key contesting political parties. The data in no way give a verdict for the popularity of any party but instead tells the search interests of a particular province. Let’s have a look on how Pakistan is searching for General Elections 2018?
Here is a color key to understanding the data visuals,
If we view the interest over the past month, PTI and PML-N appear to be neck-to-neck. However, since the end of June, PTI has been maintaining approximately 30 point lead and 60 point lead against PML-N and PPP respectively.
If we break down the search interest of each province, the insights appear to be a bit surprising. Superimposing the interests as shown in the first figure relative to each political party, PTI appears to have a stronghold in FATA while it is competing with other parties to maintain a strong interest in Punjab, Sindh and interestingly in KPK as well. Meanwhile, search trends for PML-N in Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan seem healthy. PPP, however, has not generated enough interest to compete with the other big two, even in Sindh. When we isolate the data for each political party, PML-N is enjoying peak popularity in Punjab while PTI is 25 points behind. Similarly, PPP has garnered peak search interest in Sindh only.
If we further break down the interest for major cities, PTI and PML-N appear to be in close competition in Faisalabad and Lahore. Whereas, PTI appears to take the lead in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Karachi represents an interesting picture. PTI may appear to be popular but relative to the other two political parties, there is no side it can swing towards.
Lastly, when we look up at key political leaders from the big three contesting parties, Imran Khan has beaten Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto by a landslide. However, his search interest appears to be declining in the past week but it still remains way ahead of the other two prominent leaders from PML-N and PPP. Moreover, while Shahbaz Sharif’s popularity plummets, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari seems to be rising in search interests.
While the search interests do not indicate the inclination of voters towards a particular party, they do however give an insight about the popularity. With just 27 percent internet penetration in the country. Be it broadband or 3G/4G services. The online popularity of each party can only produce a limited impact to make it or break it. These online search interests differ vastly from offline realities and cannot be generalized for a wider population.