What Do Americans Think of the Presidential Hopefuls? Part 1: Democrats



America is getting geared up for the 2016 Presidential elections, with several candidates already announcing their plans to join the race. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and most recently Lincoln Chaffee are competing for the Democratic nomination.


Meanwhile there are already 10 contenders for the republican presidential nomination including Marco Rubio,Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, George Pataki, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry. (Jeb Bush is “unofficially” also in the race, although he has yet to make a public declaration).In this post we’ll focus on the Democratic candidates.


Right now we’re at the very early stages of the presidential race, but we can already see some emerging patterns that give a clue as to how American voters are viewing these potential presidential candidates. We took a look at how people are searching for the names of the contenders on three of the top news sites in the US – Fox News, CNN and USA Today.


Overview of Search


In general, people are less interested in the upcoming presidential elections than they are with other world affairs. At the time of initial analysis, the terrorist group ISIS was one of the most searched topics driving traffic to all 3 news sites. So were the infamous Robert Durst, Iran, and the ill-fated GermanWings flight. When comparing all 3 news sites for keyword competitors, the first presidential candidate that appears is Ted Cruz, who comes in at number 17 of the top keywords driving site traffic. This data was taken from April, shortly after Hillary Clinton officially announced her bid for presidency.




The Democrats: Hillary Clinton


Former First Lady and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the first Democrat in the race. Her name was the most searched for out of all the candidates, but given her political and personal history this is unsurprising.




What is surprising is that the majority of searches for Clinton are relegated to CNN.com, with very little keyword competition from the other sites.  More than half of the queries related to Clinton are negative – referencing the infamous email scandal and her relationship with the “evil” Monsanto company. Her ties to Monsanto have even given rise to the disparaging nickname “Bride of Frankenfood.”


There are also quite a bit of keyword searches for comedy sketches parodying the former Secretary of State on popular TV show SNL. Add to this mix the trending Twitter hashtag #WhyImNotVotingforHillary (appearing just hours after she announced her bid for presidency), and the fact that her name is not even registering on Fox for search queries. It can be said that in terms of public opinion, Clinton’s campaign seems to be off to a rocky start. Yet so far she is still considered one of the strongest Democratic candidates. Using SimilarWeb’s traffic stats, Datavis illustrates that traffic to Hillary Clinton’s campaign website is much higher than that of either Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley.

hillary datavis sw stats

Bernie Sanders


A little over two weeks after Clinton’s announcement,  Vermont Senator and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders joined the race as well. Sanders brought up a lot of searches, and most of them were fairly general – presumably because the public knows less about him than his very famous opponent. Still, interest is strong, and he is seen as Hillary’s toughest rival so far. Sanders is unusual due to his socialist liberal views, and was in fact an Independent before running as a Democrat. At the time of this keyword analysis, he was Clinton’s only official opponent, so public interest was high.




Martin O’Malley

Running the same analysis on Democratic hopeful Martin O’Malley a week after he officially announced pulled up a disappointing number of results. It seemed the American public were far more interested in the famous former First Lady-turned-Secretary of State and her “independent” opponent Bernie Sanders than they were in the former Maryland Governor.




Lincoln Chafee

Another candidate with rather lackluster stats is Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island Governor (and former Republican). Chafee is most famous for being the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq War. This is also one of his primary points of criticisms against his opponent Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize war with Iraq. While this could make him one of Clinton’s most interesting opponents, based on the data it wouldn’t appear that his chances are extraordinarily high.




Not Running but the Public Wishes She Would: Elizabeth Warren

One democratic candidate has grabbed a lot of attention and interest, despite the fact she has repeatedly maintained she won’t run. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts came in 3rd place in terms of candidates driving keyword traffic to the news sites we analyzed. Only Warren isn’t running – but it would seem that people would like her to. This is another reason that Sanders might be Clinton’s strongest contender, as he could potentially take the votes of those would-be Warren supporters who can’t reconcile themselves to Hillary Clinton.




Final Thoughts: Clinton v. Sanders

So far, the trending data also reflects the media consensus (and popular opinion): that Hillary’s real challenger is “uncompromising progressive” Bernie Sanders, who’s already gaining serious traction in Iowa.  Despite Clinton’s experience in the White House and a strong support base, all the negative press doesn’t bode well for the former Secretary of State. Coupled with her past and the hoard of supporters already rallying behind Sanders, it’s possible Clinton could lose America’s vote.


What does the American public think of the Republican candidates? Find out in our next post.

About the Author -

Moshe Alexenberg is the Head of Content and Digital Insights at SimilarWeb. He has an MBA in Strategic Management and his online marketing expertise is in content marketing, digital storytelling, and data analytics.

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