Google users 1, media elite 0.
Yesterday I did a brief analysis using Google Trends to predict who John McCain's Vice President pick would be. Only one problem: I didn't throw Sarah Palin into the mix.
Here's what it looks like comparing the search volume for Sarah Palin with three other oft discussed VP hopefuls: Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Joe Lieberman.
The results? It's Palin.
I also noted last night that Google's Hot Trends was down for maintenance, but it's up and running now. So, what's hot on Google?
As I mentioned yesterday, there are a lot of theoretical reasons why ground up information from sources like Google are better predictors than "expert" opinion. I know it's a little different than elections (which have successfully been predicted with this method) given that ultimately it's John McCain's decision. But expert opinion on who McCain has picked is an act of one person (the expert) reading another person's (John McCain's) mind.
I also mentioned that I like a source like Google Trends better than formalized futures markets like Intrade (which, not-so-incidentally has Palin way up too) because there are more participants.
I can't help but let the political scientist in me come out for a bit and wonder if this wouldn't be a good case study to test alternative theories of elite vs. mass publics' knowledge?
Check out the graph from Google Trends above again. You'll notice that while Palin is generating the most buzz from general users that Romney is still getting much more attention by the media elite. Do the media elite know something that we don't or are they just speculating like the rest of us?
If they're just speculating then there is no reason to think that they have some special insight into McCain's mind. Yeah, I know reporters think they're smarter than the rest of us--and who knows, maybe they are--but that doesn't mean that they are more wise.
Update: Sarah looks good on that bike! (below the fold)
Hot! (er uh click the image)
Hat Tip Michelle
UPDATE by Rusty: Gratuitious fishing pic!