“Barack Obama won 52.9 percent of the popular vote in 2008 and 365 electoral votes, 95 more than he needed,” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a doctoral candidate in economics at Harvard, wrote Sunday in the New York Times. “Many naturally concluded that prejudice was not a major factor against a black presidential candidate in modern America. My research, a comparison of Americans’ Google searches and their voting patterns, found otherwise. If my results are correct, racial animus cost Mr. Obama many more votes than we may have realized.
” . . . Can we really quantify racial prejudice in different parts of the country based solely on how often certain words are used on Google? Not perfectly, but remarkably well. Google, aggregating information from billions of searches, has an uncanny ability to reveal meaningful social patterns. ‘God’ is Googled more often in the Bible Belt, ‘Lakers’ in Los Angeles.
” . . . many Americans use Google to find racially charged material. I performed the somewhat unpleasant task of ranking states and media markets in the United States based on the proportion of their Google searches that included the word ‘nigger(s).’ This word was included in roughly the same number of Google searches as terms like ‘Lakers,’ ‘Daily Show,’ ‘migraine’ and ‘economist.’