What the candidates’ searches say about them

One of the fun parlor games of Election ’08 is to look at Internet data and figure out what they mean.

The answer may be "nothing," of course.

But let’s play along and look at the latest Hitwise data on popular search terms. HitWise, a company that tracks Internet traffic, counted the search words that sent people to John McCain or Barack Obama’s websites. [Here’s a press release about the findings on the candidates’ top Internet search terms.]

"Health care" didn’t make Obama’s top 5 search terms in the first quarter of 2008. In the second quarter, health care took the number 4 slot. [Q1’s top term was "gay marriage," Q2’s "abortion."]

Meantime, "health care" took the tops spots for John McCain in both Q1 and Q2.

So: Does this mean people think they already know Obama’s healthcare plan and don’t need to search about it on the Internet? Or, don’t they have much interest in the issue?

As for McCain, do the searches mean his plan is little-known and people want information on it? Or do those interested in McCain care more about healthcare than Obama’s voters?

Retreat to the parlor and discuss, please.

4 replies »

  1. “The federal government should not be a deep pocket for health care funding.”
    Gary, do you think Middle America should be the deep pocket for healthcare funding? Who pays for your health coverage?

  2. I don’t believe any of these presidential candidates have any real original thoughts on healthcare. Republicans talk about increased competition, and that is what drove managed care. However it was used to actually decrease competition and restrict access by patients to certain providers. Medicare’s byzantine system of billing codes has driven up the cost to providers. A payment system has been diverted to outcomes analysis based upon more codes. I myself would not make any decisions on who would be president based upon health care issues. I believe the primary purpose of government is security for our country. The federal government should not be a deep pocket for health care funding. There is certainly nothing more important than the health of our country, and our increasing percentage of the GDP devoted to healthcare would seem to indicate that is the direction in which we are going. However much of the expense is diverted to administrative and regulatory concerns.

  3. Agree. The purpose of McCain’s “Plan” was to not be vetoed outright by the Wall Street Journal’s editorial writers. He couldn’t get to the left of the wackos on health policy without risking being rejected outright as “not conservative enough”. Hence, the market focus.
    Peter is right on the febrility of market forces both in health insurance and health delivery right now: two or three health plans control 80% of the lives in all but the largest markets and two or three providers control 80% of the hospital beds and an increasing number of the formerly private docs. (The collapse of anti-trust enforcement under both Clinton and Bush are responsible for the lockup). It’s a World War I poisoned battlefield. No leverage and no likely cost savings. They will have to come from elsewhere.
    McCain’s advisors know this plan needs work, and they are working on it. Stay tuned for v2.0. Keep a firm grip on your wallet and don’t hold your breath for a better mapping to the actual world we live in. The campaign will be won or lost elsewhere. . .

  4. “As for McCain, do the searches mean his plan is little-known and people want information on it?”
    Maybe people are trying to figure out what McCain was smoking when he “thought” about solutions to healthcare affordabilty?
    “An important part of his plan is to use competition to improve the quality of health insurance with greater variety to match people’s needs, lower prices, and portability.”
    Yea, insurance companies are about competition. Many have often discussed here how little insurance profits add to the cost of healthcare. So unless you willing the believe the insurance industry will lower provider costs then McCain’s idea doesn’t hold much water. If we look at the new Dutch plan, even though 90% of the market is controlled by 4 companies, not one has made money yet with “competition”.
    “every family will receive a direct refundable tax credit – effectively cash – of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance.”
    McCain has been using taxpayer healthcare for too long so he seems to be under the impression that $2500 & $5000 will really make a difference. Is he willing to put himself and his family in the private market with this plan.
    But wait, maybe he can rely on Cindy McCain for HIS healthcare as well – “Her father’s business and political contacts helped gain her husband (John McCain) a foothold into Arizona politics; she campaigned with her husband door-to-door during his successful first bid for U.S. Congress in 1982,[9] with her wealth from an expired trust from her parents providing significant loans to the campaign”
    Has he ever used his own money? I wonder if Cindy’s wealth will be an issue for Republicans as it was with John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz? Bet not.
    “Those obtaining innovative insurance that costs less than the credit can deposit the remainder in expanded Health Savings Accounts.”
    Anyone willing to bet there will be nothing that costs less than the credit?
    “They want insurance that is still there if they retire early and does not change if they take a few years off to raise the kids.”
    Sure, just keep paying the premiums.
    “John McCain Will Encourage And Expand The Benefits Of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) For Families.”
    Not for single people? Yea, families have all this extra cash hanging around waiting for a place to “save” it in. Maybe they can just put it on their credit card or get a home equity loan. Has he ever looked at the savings rate for this country? Has he ever looked at the mounting debt families have been accumulating? I guess he thinks everyone has access to their spouse’s trust fund.
    No wonder he shook up his campaign team – THEIR OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY!!