The in­cred­ibly searchable Rick Santorum

at 09:00 AM ET, 03/03/2012

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum was the story in the Republican presidential race over the past month. How do we know? Google told us, natch.

Here’s a look at which of the four remaining presidential candidates drew the most search interest in the ten Super Tuesday states over the past 30 days:

Of the ten states, Santorum leads in search in nine of them. Only in North Dakota is Texas Rep. Ron Paul — an Internet sensation in his own right — the most searched-for candidate.

Santorum’s search dominance is tied into two distinct narratives.

The first came out of his surprising sweep of Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado all of which voted on Feb. 7. That trio of victories turned Santorum into a subject of considerable interest nationwide and rapidly boosted his standing in states like Michigan, which he eventually lost, and Ohio.

The second — and far less helpful to Santorum’s political prospects — originated in a series of impolitic comments he made in the run-up to Tuesday’s Michigan vote, most notably that he wanted to “throw up” after listening to then President John Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the separation of church and state and his description of President Obama as a “snob” for pushing for everyone to attend college.

Both episodes ensured that Santorum was the buzziest candidate — particularly online — over the past month. But sometimes buzz isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 
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