Saturday’s election result was a shock for most, after polls showed Labor would come out on top.
Even exit polls, which are traditionally more accurate, on Saturday gave Labor a 52-48 two-party preferred lead over the Coalition, which would have delivered it as many as 82 seats in the 151-seat lower house.
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The poll predicted the biggest state swing would be 3.2 per cent to Labor in Victora after the six per cent state election swing against the Liberals. But it didn’t perform according to predictions, and neither did Queensland.
Experts blamed the incorrect polling on technological changes like people’s telephone habits, which don’t involve landlines or public numbers anymore.
But, Google experts have claimed their data revealed what voters really thought, and it only involved a quick search.
So, are data analytics the new predictor?
The Australian Financial Review reported that Scott Morrison’s victory proves a good case for data analytics over the use of polls.
On the morning of the election, Google experts say searches for Liberals spiked, and exceeded Labor by over 20 per cent, which was consistent with a winning vote based on past elections.
Interesting google search results for the election. Graph below shows trends for LNP, Labour, Greens etc. More searches for LNP on google yesterday. pic.twitter.com/R9pMTcgyn7— Geoff Wainwright (@geoffwainwright) May 18, 2019
On top of an increase in Liberal searches, Google searches also revealed there was a surge in “tax and Labor” in the lead up to the election, particularly in Queensland, and they exceeded searches about “climate change” by more than four to one.
In 2016, the Economist said it’s hardly surprising that a statistical relationship exists between Google searches and vote totals, given a well-known candidate is always going to get both more search traffic and more votes.
An Indian election coverage site, The Quint, showed Google predicted the US presidential elections of 2016 as Trump led Clinton throughout the year in terms of search results.
But, it did warn that not all searches are positive omens, given Google interest in politicians also tends to increase when a scandal hits.
The ABC reported that social media even be the next big predictor of elections, with data mining expert from Griffith University, professor Bela Stantic, using his own methods to predict Trump’s win and Brexit.
Static told the ABC that he was able to assess the opinions of people through their social media, and he analysed 2 million social media comments relating to key terms to predict Labor wouldn’t pick up the key seats it needed in Saturday’s election.
So how do I do a Google search to predict future elections?
Google Trends can show you the interest over time in a particular search term, and you can compare it to another term.
So, a Coalition and Australian Labor Party comparison would look something like this.
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