May 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Axios midterms dashboard: What matters 2022

GIF: Jacque Schrag and Will Chase/Axios

People from two congressional districts in Ohio are asking Google about gas prices with more urgency than Americans anywhere else. Abortion is a dominant search in deep-red swaths of Oklahoma, and swing districts in Florida and Nevada.

Driving the news: Axios today launches a dashboard using Google Trends data. The interactive site lets you explore which election-moving topics are driving searches in your own congressional district — and how that compares with other parts of the U.S.

Why it matters: Searches are one way to measure the local relevance of issues.

The big picture: Top-searched issues in individual congressional districts are largely in line with national trends. "Jobs" and "taxes" land in the top two the vast majority of the time.

  • That reflects pocketbook issues' typical role: The economy is almost always at the top of issues polled. (Some of those searches also may simply reflect people using Google to search for work or calculate their taxes.)
  • "The biggest issues for the majority of people don't seem to be the adversarial culture war stuff, but the nuts-and-bolts stuff," Alasdair Rae, a data scientist who worked with Axios and Google Trends on the project, told Axios.

Details: The dashboard also shows how other issues — from Russia's invasion of Ukraine to abortion, gas prices, inflation and immigration — are driving searches.

  • The dashboard reflects data from the week ending May 23. It doesn't yet reflect the nation's reaction to the mass shooting in Uvalde.
  • We'll regularly update the dashboard.

Russia and Ukraine. Oregon's newly drawn 1st Congressional District, which includes part of Portland, has had more search interest related to Ukraine than any other district.

Abortion: FL-23, an open blue seat held by Rep. Ted Deutch (D), who is retiring, has searched about abortion more than any other district. The topic was the third most-searched issue on the list for the district.

  • Axios' Jacque Schrag notes that interest in abortion is also high in districts in Oklahoma, where the governor last week signed the most restrictive abortion ban in the U.S.
  • Four of the top 10 districts for abortion searches — NV-03, FL-28, FL-27 and KS-03 — all were categorized as highly competitive districts by FiveThirtyEight.
  • Google searches about abortion spiked nationally after the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft decision that would reverse Roe v. Wade, but they have since begun to decline.

Gas prices and inflation searches have been rising, illustrating why Republicans are hammering Democrats over those themes.

  • The data showed that heavily Republican districts were conducting the most searches about gas prices.
  • Many were in and around the Appalachian region.
  • GOP Reps. Bill Johnson's OH-6 and Jim Jordan's OH-4 have been searching about gas prices more than any other district.
  • Axios' Will Chase notes that "relative interest is really low along the Eastern Seaboard and in city areas where people commute rather than drive."

Search for "the border/immigration," and you'll see many of the districts along the U.S.' southern border light up — as well as the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District in Washington, which borders Canada.

  • Some border districts have been impacted by a surge in migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Immigration and border issues were being Googled more than most districts in TX-28 ahead of its closely contested Democratic primary runoff between Rep. Henry Cuellar and challenger Jessica Cisneros.
  • During that time, border and immigration topics were of more interest than abortion in the district, according to the data.
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