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Google shows how debate hurt Rick Santorum

at 08:44 AM ET, 02/23/2012


Rick Santorum found himself defending his Senate record. (Justin Sullivan - GETTY IMAGES)

Wednesday night, rivals took on former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s record in the Senate, challenging his claim on the conservative mantle.

Google suggests that it worked.

Santorum was the most searched candidate during the debate — but the trending terms on Google suggest that his rivals were the ones driving that interest.

The top trending terms during the debate are all subjects on which Santorum was attacked by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney or Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

The word “earmark” was up 2300 percent, “bridge to nowhere” up 600 percent, and “title x/10” up 450 percent. All these subjects relate to Santorum’s career in the Senate — his votes for earmarks, including one for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” and his support for Title X funding that indirectly helped Planned Parenthood.

Santorum’s responses on these issues were often confusing, in-the-weeds explanations of congressional process.

By contrast, “Romneycare,” the only attack on Romney that made its way to Google, was up a mere 200 percent.

Of course, some of those searches may have turned up information that bolstered Santorum’s case. But for any former lawmaker, having your voting record under the microscope is never good.

 
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