Vice President Joe Biden and vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan are a little more than an hour away from their first and only debate of this election year, and search activity around the debate is heating up — largely surrounding Ryan, the Republican nominee.
We’ll begin with this tweet from Yahoo Search, which reports that there’s about seven percent more search interest in tonight’s debate over the past week than there was in the week prior to last week’s Presidential debate.
— Yahoo! Search Data (@YahooSearchData) October 11, 2012
Google Politics & Elections has been sharing some data throughout the day today, starting with this chart that compares search activity for this year’s VP candidates with activity for the 2008 VP candidates. As you can see on the right, dating back to August, search interest in Ryan has been significantly higher than interest in Biden.
The same thing happened in 2008, when search interest in Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin dwarfed Biden. I won’t bother speculating why this has been the case; your own speculation will largely be colored by which side of the political aisle you prefer.
In a separate post, Google also reports that search interest is generally higher for Ryan in the key battleground states over the past three months.
And there’s a third Google chart showing search terms related to both candidates, including the odd “stench” and “biker” that are associated with Ryan and Biden, respectively.
Don’t know why those terms are among the top VP-related searches? Biden sat closely with a female biker at a campaign stop in early September, while Politico ran a satirical column about Ryan calling Romney “The Stench” in late September, and several other media outlets picked up on the story, unaware that it was satire.
What’s interesting is that this is the opposite of search activity surrounding the two political conventions a couple months ago. At that time, both Google and Yahoo agreed that there was more Democratic-related search activity than Republican.
By the way, the debate begins tonight at 9 pm ET and, if you can’t watch on TV, it will be streamed live on the YouTube Politics channel and other online sources.