September 27, 2016
By Caitlin Dewey
Google is an imperfect oracle of popular will, but here’s one trend that seems pretty clear: Searches for the phrase “registrarse para votar” — “register to vote,” in Spanish — hit an all-time high during Monday’s presidential debate, spiking to more than 100,000 searches.
The term was Google’s third trending search in the United States at 10:30 p.m. Monday, preceded only by two phrases related to the Houston shooting. According to Google, search volume was highest in the ever-important swing state of Florida, followed by New Jersey, New York, Texas and California.
A quick note on this data, and what Google means by “trending”: The designation doesn’t refer to the most popular searches, but the ones that — relative to all other searches — are spiking. In other words, the blue trend line above doesn’t show you how many Spanish-speaking people are Googling how to vote. It shows you what normalized share they represent, in the grand scheme of all U.S. Google searches.
Spanish-language searches for voting information have only neared this interest share on one prior occasion: That was after the first presidential debate in 2012. In the current election cycle, the last comparable spike occurred on Aug. 31, the day Donald Trump made his much-anticipated Phoenix immigration speech, though search volume also increased after both parties’ conventions.
Incidentally, Google just introduced a major expansion to its in-search voting guides, the automated Knowledge Box that provides searchers personalized information on how and when to register in their states. (To be fair, this probably compounded the apparent spike from the debates.) While the box was previously only triggered by English-language searches, queries like “registrarse para votar” or “como votar” now also pull up the guides to registering.
Hispanic voters are far more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton than for Trump, statistically speaking.
Source: The Washington Post