Rick Santorum wins search wars in Arizona, Michigan

at 05:36 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Rick Santorum is in a dead heat with Mitt Romney in today’s Michigan primary and looks to be headed toward a sound defeat in the Arizona primary.

But, measured on search traffic alone, Santorum is winning — big time. (Or is he? More on that below.)

Here’s a look at searches in Michigan for Santorum, Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich over the past week :

Here’s that same chart of searches for the four Republican candidates in Arizona:

And here it is nationally:

Now, all search traffic is not good search traffic. Santorum has made news over the past week for his controversial comments — particularly his dismissal of President Obama’s “phony theology” and that President Kennedy’s speech on the separation of church and state made him want to “throw up”. (Santorum later said he regretted making the latter comment.)

That string of comments could well mean that Santorum’s spike in search traffic over the last few days meant that people less than inclined to vote for him were heading to Google to find out more.

Search traffic can’t tell us who is getting positive buzz from people living in early voting states. What it can tell us is who is getting buzz in those states. And over the last week, that’s been Santorum. For better — and worse.

 
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