Sep 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Search interest in abortion falls as the border rises

Note: Data not available from Aug. 8 to Sept. 4, 2022; Data: Google Trends; Chart: Jacque Schrag and Will Chase/Axios
Note: Data not available from Aug. 8 to Sept. 4, 2022; Data: Google Trends; Chart: Jacque Schrag and Will Chase/Axios

Americans' Google searches and story interactions around crime and immigration are eclipsing abortion and the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, according to the Axios midterms dashboard powered by Google Trends, as well as new data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: With elections seven weeks away, some topics more likely to favor Democrats have been losing ground to those that may favor Republicans.

The big picture: Democrats have been laser focused on abortion as a winning issue, but the new data shows a waning interest nationally after the initial surge that followed the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade. It remains high in some states and districts, including Indiana, which passed a near total ban last month.

  • Meanwhile, searches related to immigration and the border vaulted into the top 10 last week, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis grabbed national attention by flying asylum seekers to Martha's Vineyard.
  • Crime has continued to hover around the top 10 as an issue many voters have been paying close attention to.
  • Search interest in inflation and generally about the economy has been rising again.
  • One positive trend for Democrats: Declining interest in "gas prices," after the topic landed in the top 3 in early June. That decline tracked with falling prices at the pump.

Zoom in: Stories about the busing and flying of migrants to other parts of the country captured significant social media attention over the past week, according to data from NewsWhip.

  • Interactions on stories about DeSantis flying migrants to Martha's Vineyard far outnumbered those on the stories about abortion or the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago during that same time period, for example.

Of note: Jobs, taxes and wages have without fail remained at or near the top of the search hierarchy over the past several months. It tracks with polls that show voters care most about economic issues.

  • Firearms dropped out of the top 5 for only the second time since Axios has been recording the data.
  • Ukraine is back again in the top 5, after several weeks of falling interest as the conflict stagnated.
  • The Google Trends data compares weekly data from the period of May 23-August 8 and September 8 to September 20.
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