Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate was scored by many pundits as a draw or a narrow win for Hillary Clinton. But online, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders held a big lead over the former first lady in positive Google search traffic throughout the televised event.
Even a cursory glance at Google Trends data during Thursday night’s debate shows Sanders peaking over Clinton, in multiple instances throughout the night by 50 percent or more, for almost the entire debate.
Google Trends graphs — which show the total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time — for both Clinton and Sanders show Sanders beating Clinton at 100 to 38 as the debate was getting underway just after 9 p.m. EST, when the contest began.
Over the next two hours, Sanders generally hovered between 50 and 60, compared to Clinton’s average of between 11 and 30. The former secretary of State peaked at 69 to Sanders’ 57 little over halfway through the night, but the Vermont senator more than doubled Clinton for most of the night.
Fifty-eight percent of candidate search interest in New Hampshire overall was in Sanders, while the remaining 42 percent went to Clinton.
Real-time search interest in 2016 Democratic presidential candidates from days before the Iowa caucuses to Friday peaked on Feb. 1 at 100 for Sanders and 57 for Clinton. Nationwide interest in the New Hampshire primary over the last week was mainly focused from Burlington, Vermont across Lake Champlain to Plattsburg, NY at 100, Des Moines to Ames Iowa at 87 and Boston to Manchester, New Hampshire at 79.
The questions viewers asked Google also appeared to lean more positively in Sanders case:
1. Where will Bernie Sanders be speaking?
2. Why Bernie Sanders?
3. Who would be Bernie Sanders’ VP?
4. How to donate to Bernie Sanders
5. Where can I see Bernie Sanders in NH?
The top and bottom questions imply interest in hearing Sanders speak, particularly in the Granite State — the site of the next primary — while the fourth shows interest in individually donating to Sanders’ campaign. The Vermont senator raised $20 million in January, out-raising Clinton by $5 million.
Clinton’s top five questions were focused on her personally, including her age, net worth, and viability as a candidate:
1. How old is Hillary Clinton?
2. Who can beat Hillary?
3. Where is Hillary Clinton today?
4. Will Hillary win?
5. How much is Hillary Clinton worth?
On the issues, Google users asked about Clinton and Sanders’ positions on immigration chiefly, gun control second, education and exclusively drugs on the Sanders side, with criminal justice reform being a core issue of the Sanders campaign. On the Clinton side users asked exclusively about “defeating ISIS,” a likely result of Clinton’s State Department experience.
An NBC News/Wall Street/Marist poll conducted after Clinton’s narrow victory in Iowa this week gave Sanders the support of 58 percent of likely Democratic voters, and Hillary Clinton 38 percent. According to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Friday Clinton is hovering at 44 percent, just above Sanders 42 percent.
Though Sanders maintains the Democratic lead in New Hampshire, the Vermont senator only leades search traffic in four out of 10 counties in the Granite State, with Republican candidate Donald Trump leading in the remaining six.