Nov 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

First look: What your congressional district is Googling

Data: Google Trends; Maps: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Glenn Youngkin's victory in Virginia's gubernatorial race drove a wave of Google searches throughout the state for topics related to critical race theory — including in the district of one of the most vulnerable House Democrats.

The big picture: In a first-of-its kind project we're unveiling today, one year out from the 2022 midterm elections, Axios and Google Trends will be tracking which political issues voters are searching for in each congressional district over the course of the next year.

  • Today's first look indicates that the issues conservatives want to push to the forefront, including Youngkin's focus on race and education, are resonating in vulnerable Democrats' backyards.

By the numbers: Searches related to "critical race theory" made up a bigger share of all searches last week in Rep. Abigail Spanberger's Virginia district than in any other. She's one of the GOP's top targets as they aim to retake the House next year.

  • Spanberger's district also saw a large concentration of searches for same-sex marriage, firearms and refugees. Neither her office nor her campaign responded to requests for comment.

How it works: Axios and Google Trends are tracking the districts in which a given term makes up the biggest share of all Google searches. This installment covers Nov. 2-4 — Election Day and the two days after.

  • Axios will revisit the data next year after redistricting maps are complete.

What they're searching:

  • Inflation made up a bigger share of Google searches in Rep. Steven Horsford's (D-Nevada) district than any other district. He is also a top 2022 target for the NRCC.
  • Unemployment: Nevada's 3rd, south of Las Vegas, represented by Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat, pulled in the largest share of unemployment-related searches.
  • Immigration was biggest in Rep. Danny Davis' solidly blue 7th district in Illinois, which includes part of Chicago.
  • Abortion rights: Progressive Rep. Mondaire Jones' (D-N.Y.) district posted the most google interest in the topic.
  • "Big Lie" was most searched by constituents in Rep. Stephanie Bice's (R-Okla.) district, followed by vulnerable Democrat Lizzie Fletcher's district in Texas. Bice was among the Republicans who backed the Jan. 6 commission but pledged earlier this year not to make it a "witch hunt" against former President Trump.

What we're watching: Passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the fate of President Biden's larger Build Back Better social spending plan could drive searches in the coming weeks, along with schools, crime, inflation, the border, Donald Trump and Jan. 6.

The bottom line: Both parties will try to use data and technology to pinpoint issues that resonate locally and wage political battle for voters' short attention spans through the 2022 midterms.

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