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.

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Gary LtcoyotePeter Recent comment authors
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“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?

Gary L

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… Read more »


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… Read more »


“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… Read more »