In the months leading up to the Nov. 6 elections, when Puerto Rico residents will decide this year’s heated race, Google searches on all matters related to the democratic process have been increasing by as much as 30 percent per week, while specific searches related to the candidates — incumbent Gov. Luis Fortuño and main challenger Alejandro García-Padilla — have spiked by 60 points from July to late October.
According to Google Latin America, New Progressive Party candidate Fortuño has had very high peak in terms of searches in 2008, 2009 and 2010, precisely when he won the elections that moved him into La Fortaleza and is now aspiring for re-election.
When comparing online searches for those three years with the present, activity is down by almost 60 points, meaning that for every 10 searches related to Fortuño conducted in the 2008 elections have dropped to about four now.
On the flip side, Google said Popular Democratic Party contender García-Padilla has seen searches on him practically double those for Fortuño at present.
The big winner, according to statistics provided by Google through recently merged “Trends and Insights for Search” tools are island voters, who have increasingly used the Internet to find out what has been said or suggested about their preferred candidate.
Searches spike on important news
Google’s statistics show peaking searches coincide with important news or relevant events “that mobilize people to seek more information, reactions and comments with respect to a proposal or statement.”
For example, searches for Fortuño peaked the week of Feb. 19-25, right after he announced his support for Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. Meanwhile, García-Padilla’s virtual stock rose from March 11-17, when he launched his campaign during a massive event in Humacao.
Another active point in the campaign came during the last two weeks of October, when the candidates intensified their campaigns and messages, leading up to the Oct. 25th televised debate.
“This prompted online consultations for the two candidates to almost duplicate in a single week,” Google Latin America said, adding the search trends are not indicators of how the people will vote, “they are a clear indicator of the public interest’s progress in an elections and how the Internet is becoming an ideal tool to try to make the best decisions.”