I recently discovered the Google Insights for Search tool, which provides information gathered by Google based on search terms As opposed to the auto-fill problem, this doesn’t measure what links Google is returning, but what searches users are conducting.
I searched for “Elizabeth Warren” for the time period May – July 2012, which correlates closely with when The Boston Herald broke the story in late April that Warren was promoted as a Native American hire by Harvard Law School.
Here are the results for the terms associated with ”Elizabeth Warren” during May – July 2012:
Here are the results for the rising search terms:
By contrast, the period January – April 2012 did not include anything related to Warren’s ethnicity as search terms. (A search for “Scott Brown” during May-July turned up nothing unusual, with search terms focused on the campaign.)
Massachusetts also was the highest search region by far, followed closely by New Hampshire. There was no way to find out the correlation between Massachusetts searches and specific search terms because there was insufficient data within the last 90 days.
There is no reason, however, to expect that Massachusetts search users would differ meaningfully in the searches they conducted as to Warren, so there must be a lot of people in Massachusetts focused on Warren’s ethnicity and ancestry.
What does it all mean?
A reasonable conclusion is that Elizabeth Warren’s Native American / Cherokee / Indian problem, however you want to term it, has permeated deep into the public perception of Warren.
I would expect similar results if one conducted a word association test with the public — is there any doubt which words would come to mind?
Don’t take my word for it, just ask Google.