The Washington Post did a nice job utilizing a free Google search metric called Insights to get a handle on what’s going on with the Ron Paul surge. The post is called “The Ron Paul Phenomenon — in one graph,” but is it? The graph they posted, for the last 30 days, is this:
Pretty cool. I’ve been using Google Trends, a similar metric service, in my prediction markets research. Let’s just say these metrics track candidate popularity pretty well, and they should. But as for telling a story with this graph, it might be better, as is often the case, to zoom back and start with the big picture. Here’s this metric since 2004, when Google began.
The absolute maximum of this time series is actually in January 2008. And we know how Paul ended up doing in that election.
Today’s metric, if anything, suggests something perhaps even more underwhelming. Or maybe this metric doesn’t really tell us as much of the story as we thought. Be wary of geeks bearing one graph.