We've been tracking Google search patterns during the presidential debates since the beginning, hoping that they might offer some insight into the sorts of things that viewers want to know about the various candidates. We've seen people search for more information about Lindsey Graham's family. We've watched people seek out more data on Bernie Sanders's height. We have actual evidence that people at one point in time looked for more information about Jim Gilmore. Honest to God. Jim Gilmore.
After this particularly messy GOP debate, though, it's time to admit that people aren't really searching for nuanced policy positions that they heard mentioned over the course of the two hours CBS aired. They never were, really; only when candidates throw dirt at one another do people actually want to do a search on anything policy-related. Most of the time, people are searching for personal information. Most of the time, what people are sharing on social media are funny things. Most of the time -- just like most of the debate -- the conversation is about the entertainment, not the substance.
Which is, of course, fitting.
Donald Trump dominated the overall Google search, as he usually does. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz saw some spikes at certain points. But the night belonged to Trump by a wide margin.
What did people want to know? Important things. The number one question was "What did Donald Trump call Ted Cruz?" The answer was, "pussy." The number two question was, "What did Trump say in New Hampshire?" The answer is, "He called Ted Cruz a pussy."
Google broke down responses just within South Carolina, too, the next state to vote -- on Feb. 20. What did people there want to know about Gov. John Kasich of Ohio? "What state is Kasich from?" About Jeb Bush? "Is Jeb Bush related to George W. Bush?" (I believe so, yes.) About Marco Rubio? "What did Marco Rubio say?" (To answer that, here is the transcript of the night.) What did people want to know about Ted Cruz? "What does Ted Cruz look like?"
That was the second-most common question: What does Ted Cruz look like? There's a not-complimentary Rolling Stone article that results when you conduct that search, and the answer is not complimentary. The site What-Dog, meanwhile, thinks Ted Cruz looks like a Dutch Shepherd.
Hope that helps.
Trump won on Twitter, too, as he also usually does. What were people talking about there?
— Twitter Government (@gov) February 14, 2016
Notice the booing! So much booing.
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) February 14, 2016