Google Trends(SM) Data Shows Inequality, Debt, Stress Searches Fuel Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders Voter Interest and Popularity

I confess to being a data junkie.  With graduate studies in marketing statistics, I’ve been elated with the, near real-time access to millions  and billions of keyword searches by people all over the world.  Simply put, Google Trends is my friend.  So I turned the data loose on the underlying voter interest in Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, each at polar opposites of the political spectrum, yet both tapping into a similar underlying sentiment: growing concerns about debt, inequality and student loans.

Big Jumps During Great Recession

That data above covers the period from Jan 2004 to Feb 2016.  We see a sharp uptick in searches for the keywords debt, foreclosure and stress during the peak period of the Great Recession (late 2007 to 2009).  We also notice another interesting trend:  stable or falling volume of searches on student loans and inequality from 2007-2009; but then a gradual slow increase in searches for student loans and inequality from 2009 to 2016.  Both of those search terms volumes are now at historically high rates.

Google Trends Explain Trump and Sanders Popularity with Voters

These trends help explain the interest in Trump and Sanders.  Whether you believe Donald Trump, will “Make America great again,” or that Bernie Sanders is correct in telling us that “The system is rigged,” both of these Presidential candidates have a solid grasp of the data and the underlying national sentiment.  The sentiment is of fear, frustration and anger over our elected officials not looking out for the little guy.  The latest increase in searches on the keywords student loan, stress and inequality point to potential political unrest if our elected officials don’t respond to the needs of the average Joe and Jane.