Author Archives: Google Politics, Elections, and Public Sector Team

#IRegistered to vote. Have you?

¡Hola! Desplazarse hacia abajo para leer este mensaje en español -Ed.

On the eve of National Voter Registration Day, we’re doing our part to encourage American voters to get registered for the 2016 election. We've already added in-depth information in Search for registration and how to vote, and now we're adding this same information in Spanish. Now both Spanish and English speakers will be able to get custom, state-by-state information on key registration deadlines, when to get to the polls, and even steps on how to vote early or by mail. We hope this feature helps simplify the registration process for more American voters.

By helping more people get registered, we're also helping ensure more people get to the polls and vote. The majority of Americans who register to vote end up voting — according to the US Census Bureau, in 2012, 86 percent of those who registered also voted in the November election.

Today's Google Doodle encourages people to get registered in time for National Voter Registration Day

YouTube creators also want you to head to the polls and #voteIRL. Tune in to this playlist to see how you can register to vote in the amount of time it takes Ryan Seacrest to host a radio show or The Fung Bros to shoot hoops. Surprising fact: it only takes one minute and 34 seconds! Once you’ve registered, join us in encouraging others along the voting process by sharing a post with #IRegistered on social media.

Registering to vote is just the first step toward casting your ballot in this year’s election. We hope that you’ll be inspired to learn more about the candidates, the issues, and the voting process — and make your voice heard in 2016!

Posted by Jonathan Betz, Engineering Manager, Civic Engagement


Yo me registre para votar. ¿Y tu? #IRegistered

En la víspera del Día Nacional de Registro de Votantes, estamos haciendo nuestra parte para animar a los votantes estadounidenses para registrarse para las elecciones del 2016. Ya hemos añadido información detallada en búsqueda de como registrarte y cómo votar, y ahora estamos añadiendo esa misma información en español.

Ahora, tanto los hablantes de español e inglés podrán obtener información personalizada, estado por estado sobre las fechas clave de registro, horarios para llegar a las urnas, e incluso los pasos necesarios para votar temprano o por correo. Esperamos que esta función ayude a simplificar el proceso de registro para más votantes estadounidenses.

Al ayudar a que más personas se registren, también estamos ayudando a asegurar que más personas lleguen a las urnas y voten. La mayoría de los estadounidenses que se registran para votar terminan ejerciendo su voto - según la Oficina del Censo de Estados Unidos, en el año 2012, el 86 por ciento de los que se registraron también votaron en las elecciones de noviembre.

El Google Doodle de hoy anima a la gente para que se registren a tiempo como parte del Día Nacional de Registro de Votantes

Los creadores de YouTube también quieren que acudas a las urnas y voten en vida real con la campaña #voteIRL. Te recomendamos sintonizar esta lista de videos para aprender cómo puedes registrarte para votar casi en la misma cantidad de tiempo que le toma a Ryan Seacrest presentar su programa de radio o a los Fung Bros jugar baloncesto. De hecho, te sorprenderá saber que: ¡sólo te tomará un minuto y 34 segundos! Una vez que te hayas registrado, te invitamos a acompañarnos a animar a otros a lo largo del proceso de votar, compartiendo un post utilizando #IRegistered en tus redes sociales.

Registrarse para votar es sólo el primer paso para emitir tu voto en las elecciones de este año. ¡Esperamos que te inspires a aprender más sobre los candidatos, los temas, y el proceso de votación - y al mismo tiempo hacer oír tu voz en el 2016!

Publicado por Jonathan Betz, Gerente de Ingeniería, Participación Cívica

Your Vote Counts!

As Americans prepare to head to the polls, we’re making it easier than ever for everyone to participate in the political process. Last month, we made it simpler for people to register to vote. Now, we’re taking this a step further and introducing a brand new, state-by-state guide for people looking for information on how to vote in November. We’re also sharing some search trends to track the engagement and interest of American voters around the party conventions.

How to vote
Whether you’re a first-time voter, a resident in a new state, or your state laws have changed since the last time you voted, you can now come to Google for information on how to vote in the upcoming election. This new in-depth search result provides information on ID requirements, deadlines, mail-in ballots and early voting. We hope this customized state-by-state guide will help you find the information you need quickly and easily to help get your voice heard.

Search trends
Since releasing our customized voter registration guide in Search last month, we’re seeing millions of people coming to Google to learn more about voting and how to register in the U.S. In fact, compared to the same time four years ago, nationwide searches for voter registration are up 190 percent nationwide.

The map below shows a state-by-state breakdown illustrating how — and where — searches for “voter registration” have changed between 2012 and today. You’ll find some of the highest spikes in the dark green states: California, New York, West Virginia, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts.

And below you'll find a state-by-state graphic ranking all 50 states and how their search interest in 'voter registration' has changed between 2012 and today:

We’re committed to making it easy for people to find information, and have their voices heard in November. So we're also making the data that powers our “how to register to vote” and our “how to vote” search results publicly available, so nonprofits and organizations promoting voter education can benefit and expand the reach of this critical information.

We hope these insights and features inspire you to register to vote, exercise your civic duty, and get to the polls in November! 

The 2016 Conventions on Google and YouTube

Over 200,000 balloons dropped in Cleveland and Philadelphia to close out the 2016 Republican and Democratic Conventions last week. In case you missed any of the highlights, you can replay both conventions on the official YouTube channels for the RNC and DNC, where over 9 million viewers tuned in to watch.

Don’t have time to watch the entire thing? No problem. Here’s a recap of the conventions through YouTube videos and Google Search trends:

Users Turn to Google Search to Learn More
Republican National Convention

Democratic National Convention

YouTube Creators Bring the Conventions to their Audiences

For more trends and election coverage, follow us on @googlepolitics.

How the Veepstakes is Playing Out on Google

In just a few weeks, thousands of delegates will begin entering the doors of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions to nominate their parties’ presidential candidates. With the conventions and the general election on the horizon, voters are turning to Google to find out who each candidate will choose as their vice presidential nominee. Let’s see what people are searching:

See more Google Trends on the 2016 Election here!

Google and FOX News Channel Present Republican Presidential Debate in Des Moines, Iowa

With less than two weeks until the kickoff of the 2016 presidential primaries, millions of Americans are turning to Google to search about the candidates and the issues that matter to them most. In fact, during televised presidential debates, we see political search interest spike over 440% on average as voters across America seek to learn more about what’s happening on the live debate stage.

That’s why we’re excited to team up with Fox News Channel for the next Republican debate to create a more fun and informative way for people to learn more about the candidates and issues in this primary race. We’ll integrate Google Search Trends and questions from the YouTube community into the debate, in addition to live, real-time updates on the Google Trends homepage.

Join us next Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on FOX News Channel to watch the Fox News/Google Republican debate live!

Win the Moments that Win Elections

Elections are decided over time, in countless moments that invite campaigns to inform, inspire, and persuade voters. The more of those moments you win, the better your chances of winning on Election Day.
With digital media, campaigns have greater opportunity than ever to influence these voter moments. We get immediate, relevant answers about candidate’s stances from Google search. We can easily watch and share a candidate’s YouTube announcement video or debate clip. When we see the right message at the right moment - and on the right screen - we can be inspired to donate to a campaign. Though the Election is nearly a year away, opportunities to influence voters start now. In July - September of this year, there were 650M views of political content on YouTube.

Today, we’re releasing a new website to help campaigns of all sizes — from mayoral to presidential — understand how to influence these voter moments.


The site features a campaign playbook for five stages of a political campaign:
1 - Establish: setting up your campaign presence online
2 - Build: growing your base through fundraising and email list building
3 - Persuade: reaching persuadable voters with a variety of digital assets
4 - Respond: reacting to current news or offline events
5 - Mobilize: getting your supporters to the polls during voting season

On the Establish page, campaigns can learn the top mobile design principles for campaign sites

Each piece of the playbook explains which digital tools campaigns can leverage. We showcase examples of past and present campaigns doing these strategies well. On the site, we also put together a Solutions guide that walks through Google tools campaigns can use, from video and search ads to Google Analytics and Google Consumer Surveys.
On the Solutions page, we break down all of Google’s tools for campaigns

We’re excited to see how campaigns and candidates will use digital tools in reaching potential voters. As campaigns innovate on digital in the next year, we plan to update this site with new research and examples, so stay tuned!

Posted by Coco Pannell, Google Politics & Elections Ads Team

Planning Election Day with Google in 4 Easy Steps

Cross-posted from the Google Canada Blog

Here’s a timely phrase that’s on the mind of a lot of Canadians this year: how to vote?

This election day, Google has the answer to this important question and a whole lot more! From the ballot box to watching live results, here’s what you need to know to participate in your democracy on October 19th.

Step 1: Make sure you know how and where to vote—and who’s on your ballot!

For the first time ever in Canada, simple searches for [how do i vote], [register to vote] and [my election candidates] will confirm what you need to bring to the polls, and will show you who is running in your riding on Monday.

Step 2: Pledge to Vote

You’ve found all the information you need for Monday, but have you pledged to vote yet? Visit our interactive tool and make your pledge to vote today. And don’t forget to challenge your friends and remind them how important it is to head to the polls!

Go to and share why you are turning out to vote.

Step 3: Track the results

After the polls close on Monday, you can track all the real-time election results by searching [election results]. If you use Google Now, you’ll get updates on the winners straight from the app to your smartphone!

Step 4: Watch election night coverage

Tune in to the latest live news coverage from Canadian broadcasters at
Throughout the election, Canadians have turned to YouTube as a source of news, commentary and insight. We’ve tuned into YouTube to watch our leaders debate live, and for the latest election trending videos.

Starting at 5PM on October 19th, tune into the YouTube Canada Elections Hub at for live election coverage from Canadians news organizations such as Global News, CBC, RadioCanada and Vice News

All set Canada? Happy Voting!

Posted by: Kate Sokolov, Program Manager, Politics & Elections Google

Welcome to the 2016 Election Trend Tracker

Welcome to Google's 2016 Trend Tracker! Brought to you by the Google News Lab, these weekly newsletters will uncover the latest trends and insights into the 2016 Election.  

2016 Elections: Weekly Trends Tracker 
6/10/2015 - 6/16/2015 


Democrats: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee
Republicans: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, Donald Trump


  • Following recent reports on Marco Rubio’s finances, top questions on Marco Rubio were: “How many houses does Marco Rubio own?” and “What kind of boat does Marco Rubio have?” 
  • Lindsey Graham was the only candidate where a question on his stance on gay marriage showed up: “Where does Lindsey Graham stand on gay marriage?”
  • With the third anniversary of President Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) this week, the most searched topic related to the 2016 elections was immigration. 

  1. Hillary Clinton
  2. Bernie Sanders
  3. Martin O’Malley
  4. Lincoln Chafee
  1. Jeb Bush
  2. Donald Trump
  3. Marco Rubio
  4. Lindsey Graham
  5. Rand Paul
  6. Chris Christie
  7. Ben Carson
  8. Scott Walker
  9. Ted Cruz
  10. Carly Fiorina
  11. Rick Perry
  12. Rick Santorum
  13. Mike Huckabee
  14. George Pataki



Top Related Questions: Hillary Clinton 
  1. How old is Hillary Clinton?
  2. Is Hillary Clinton a Democrat?
  3. Will Hillary Clinton be elected?
  4. What time is Hillary Clinton speaking?
  5. How tall is Hillary Clinton?
  6. What does Hillary Clinton plan to do as President?
  7. Is Hillary Clinton running for office in 2016?
  8. Who is running against Hillary Clinton?
  9. Where did Hillary Clinton go to college?
  10. Who is Hillary Clinton?

Top Related Questions: Bernie Sanders 
  1. How old is Bernie Sanders?
  2. Who is Bernie Sanders? 
  3. Is Bernie Sanders Jewish?
  4. Is Bernie Sanders a Democrat?
  5. Is Bernie Sanders running?
  6. Is Bernie Sanders a Socialist?
  7. Will Bernie Sanders win? 
  8. What does Bernie Sanders stand for?
  9. How is Bernie Sanders doing?
  10. Is Bernie Sanders married? 

Top Related Questions: Martin O’Malley
  1. Who is Martin O’Malley?
  2. Where does Martin O’Malley live? 
  3. Is Martin O’Malley a Democrat?
  4. How old is Martin O’Malley?
  5. Where was Martin O’Malley born?
  6. How tall is Martin O’Malley?
  7. Why should Martin O’Malley not be President?
  8. Why is Martin O’Malley running for President?
  9. Why should Martin O’Malley be President?
  10. How many taxes did Martin O’Malley add to Maryland? 

Top Related Questions: Ben Carson 
  1. Who is Ben Carson?
  2. How old is Ben Carson?
  3. Is Ben Carson running for President?
  4. Is Ben Carson a Democrat? 
  5. Where is Ben Carson from? 
  6. What does Ben Carson stand for? 
  7. Where does Ben Carson live? 
  8. How tall is Ben Carson?
  9. What religion is Ben Carson?
  10. How is Ben Carson doing in the polls? 

Top Related Questions: Ted Cruz
  1. Where was Ted Cruz born?
  2. Who is Ted Cruz?
  3. How can Ted Cruz run?
  4. Is Ted Cruz Canadian?
  5. Where is Ted Cruz from?
  6. How tall is Ted Cruz?
  7. How old is Ted Cruz?
  8. Where does Ted Cruz live?
  9. Is Ted Cruz Hispanic?
  10. Is Ted Cruz running for President? 
  11. How did Ted Cruz vote on the trade bill?

Top Related Questions: Carly Fiorina
  1. How old is Carly Fiorina?
  2. Who is Carly Fiorina? 
  3. Is Carly Fiorina married?
  4. Where does Carly Fiorina live?
  5. How tall is Carly Fiorina?
  6. Is Carly Fiorina a Democrat?
  7. Where did Carly Fiorina go to college?
  8. Where is Carly Fiorina from?
  9. Is Carly Fiorina Jewish?
  10. What is Carly Fiorina’s net worth? 
  11. Is Carly Fiorina pro life

Top Related Questions: Mike Huckabee
  1. Who is Mike Huckabee?
  2. How old is Mike Huckabee?
  3. Is Huckabee running for President?
  4. Is Mike Huckabee Republican?
  5. Where is Mike Huckabee from?
  6. Where does Mike Huckabee live?
  7. How tall is Mike Huckabee?
  8. What gifts do I receive for endorsing Mike Huckabee?
  9. Where does Mike Huckabee go to church?
  10. Who is touring with Mike Huckabee? 

Top Related Questions: Rand Paul
  1. How tall is Rand Paul?
  2. Who is Rand Paul?
  3. How old is Rand Paul?
  4. Is Rand Paul Ron Paul’s son?
  5. Is Rand Paul running?
  6. What does Rand Paul want?
  7. How did Rand Paul vote on TPP?
  8. What kind of doctor is Senator Rand Paul?
  9. Where is Rand Paul from? 
  10. How is Rand Paul doing in the polls? 

Top Related Questions: Marco Rubio
  1. How old is Marco Rubio?
  2. Who is Marco Rubio?
  3. How tall is Marco Rubio?
  4. Where was Marco Rubio born?
  5. Is Marco Rubio running for President?
  6. Where does Marco Rubio live now? 
  7. Is Marco Rubio Republican?
  8. How many houses does Marco Rubio own? 
  9. Where did Marco Rubio go to college?
  10. What is Marco Rubio’s net worth?
  11. What kind of boat does Marco Rubio have? 

Top Related Questions: Jeb Bush
  1. How old is Jeb Bush?
  2. Who is Jeb Bush?
  3. What is Jeb Bush’s full name?
  4. Is Jeb Bush related to George Bush?
  5. How tall is Jeb Bush?
  6. How is Jeb Bush related to George Bush?
  7. Is Jeb Bush Catholic?
  8. Who is Jeb Bush married to?
  9. What does Jeb stand for?
  10. Is Jeb Bush a Democrat?

Top Related Questions: Scott Walker
  1. Is Scott Walker running for President?
  2. Who is Scott Walker?
  3. How old is Scott Walker?
  4. How tall is Scott Walker?
  5. When will Scott Walker announce?
  6. Will Scott Walker become President?
  7. Where is Scott Walker from?
  8. Where was Scott Walker born?
  9. Why did Scott Walker leave Marquette?

Top Related Questions: Chris Christie
  1. Is Chris Christie going to run for President?
  2. Is Chris Christie Republican?
  3. How much does Chris Christie weigh?
  4. How much weight has Chris Christie lost?
  5. Who is Chris Christie?
  6. How old is Chris Christie?
  7. When is Chris Christie leaving office?
  8. What does Chris Christie do?
  9. Where does Chris Christie live?
  10. How tall is Chris Christie? 

Top Related Questions: Rick Santorum
  1. Who is Rick Santorum?
  2. How old is Rick Santorum?
  3. What religion is Rick Santorum?
  4. Is Rick Santorum running for President in 2016?
  5. Where is Rick Santorum from?
  6. What party is Rick Santorum?
  7. Where does Rick Santorum live?
  8. What will Rick Santorum do for America?
  9. Where is Rick Santorum now?
  10. Where was Rick Santorum born?

Top Related Questions: Lindsey Graham
  1. Is Lindsey Graham married?
  2. How tall is Lindsey Graham?
  3. Why isn’t Lindsey Graham married?
  4. How old is Lindsey Graham?
  5. Who is Lindsey Graham?
  6. Has Senator Lindsey Graham never been married?
  7. Is Lindsey Graham divorced?
  8. Where does Lindsey Graham stand on gay marriage?
  9. Is Lindsey Graham going to run for President?
  10. Who has Lindsey Graham dated? 

Top Related Questions: George Pataki
  1. How old is George Pataki? 
  2. How tall is George Pataki?
  3. Who is George Pataki?
  4. Is George Pataki still running for President?
  5. How is Governor Pataki’s son-in-law doing? 
  6. Is George Pataki Jewish?
  7. Where does George Pataki live?
  8. When did George Pataki enter the Presidential race?
  9. How do you pronounce George Pataki?
  10. Is George Pataki a Democrat?

Top Related Questions: Rick Perry
  1. How old is Rick Perry?
  2. Is Rick Perry running in 2016?
  3. How tall is Rick Perry?
  4. Who is Rick Perry?
  5. Where did Rick Perry go to college?
  6. When did Rick Perry announce his candidacy for President?
  7. Is Rick Perry still governor?
  8. Where does Rick Perry live?
  9. Where was Rick Perry born?
  10. Who was the lieutenant governor for Rick Perry?

Top Related Questions: Lincoln Chafee
  1. Who is Lincoln Chafee?
  2. How old is Lincoln Chafee?
  3. Is Lincoln Chafee married?
  4. What was Larry Wilmore’s question to Lincoln Chafee?
  5. What is Lincoln Chafee’s net worth? 
  6. Is Lincoln Chafee a Democrat?
  7. What is Lincoln Chafee’s slogan?
  8. Who is Lincoln Chafee’s father?
  9. When did Chafee announce?
  10. Where is Lincoln Chafee from? 

Top Related Questions: Donald Trump
  1. Is Donald Trump running for President in 2016?
  2. Is Donald Trump a Republican?
  3. How old is Donald Trump?
  4. How much is Donald Trump worth?
  5. Who is Donald Trump?
  6. How many times has Donald Trump run for President?
  7. How did Donald Trump make his money?
  8. How many times has Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy?
  9. Is Donald Trump married?
  10. Is Donald Trump a Christian? 

  1. Immigration
  2. Same-Sex Marriage
  3. Education
  4. Taxes
  5. Economy
  6. Health Care
  7. Foreign Policy
  8. Climate Change
  9. Environment
  10. Housing

  1. What is immigration reform?
  2. How many immigrants are in the US? 
  3. Why did immigrants come to America?
  4. What is immigration?
  5. What is the difference between immigration and emigration? 
  6. How do I check my immigration petition status? 
  7. What is DACA immigration? 
  8. Why is immigration good? 
  9. What is an immigrant visa?
  10. How do I check immigration status? 

Google Consumer Surveys is a market research tool that allows users to create online surveys to get quick and accurate data from a representative sample. Survey questions are served to respondents online and through a mobile app in exchange for access to premium content and Google Play credit. We Google Consumer Surveys to look at voting intentions for the US presidential election and attitudes on key issues. These were all the questions asked:
  • Do you intend to vote in the 2016 Presidential election?
  • Which party's candidate do you intend to vote for?
  • How important is health care in deciding your vote?
  • How important is the economy in deciding your vote?
  • How important is wealth inequality in deciding your vote?
  • How important is the Federal budget deficit in deciding your vote?
  • How important is immigration/illegal immigration in deciding your vote?
  • How important are race relations in deciding your vote?
  • How important is the gender of the candidate in deciding your vote?
  • How important is the ethnicity of the candidate in deciding your vote?

Executive Results Overview (and changes from previous week):

1) Just half of those who responded say they intend to vote - 58.5% (+1.5%)
  • 17%, have already decided they will not vote in 2016 (-1%).
  • 46.7% will decided who to vote for when the the candidates are announced (-1.3%)
2) The top issue is the economy, followed by healthcare (unchanged) and the federal budget deficit (+) tied for second. This is the order:
  1. Economy (unchanged)
  2. Healthcare (unchanged) and federal budget deficit (+) 
  3. Immigration/Illegal Immigration (+) 
  4. Wealth Inequality (-)
  5. Race Relations (+)
3) This is the vote split of those who will vote for a party: 

  • Dem: 40.9% (-1.8%)
  • Rep: 47.3% (+4.8%)
  • Other: 4.1% (+1.1%)
  • Independent: 7.7% (-4.3%)

Top 5 insights from Google Consumer Surveys this week:
  1. Women were more concerned about the gender of a political candidate than men were concerned. 
  2. 65+ year olds were more concerned about immigration/illegal immigration than any other age group. 
  3. The US South picked Republican as the party they intended to vote for more than the US Midwest picked Republican. 
  4. 65+ year olds were more concerned about the ethnicity of a political candidate than any other age group. 
  5. The two highest income brackets concerned with race relations were $0-$24,999 and $75,000-$99,999, respectively. 

Understanding America’s "Interested Bystander:" A Complicated Relationship with Civic Duty

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.34.45 AM.png

What motivates Americans to do things that are civic?

Among those who are interested in improving democracy, the question of how to engage the unengaged has been a persistent challenge. We and many others have observed that too many Americans feel disconnected from public policy and legislative decision-making in the United States. While a portion of Americans are engaged in community and social contexts as volunteers, it seems that most people are not participating in a politically-defined notion of civic life in a broad-scale way.

In the past year, we decided to take a deeper look at the people that we and many others across the civic tech ecosystem are seeking to engage more robustly in civic life. Might we be able to identify people in the U.S. who seem to be aware of the world around them but are not actively deliberating on opinions or taking action on issues, and then uncover something meaningful about their attitudes as a group?

Referring to these people as “Interested Bystanders,” we hypothesized that such a person is an individual, in a Western democratic context, who is aware of political or community issues around her, but not active in addressing them. She knows what civic challenges exist and would like to complain/act/improve the situation but she has not yet found the motivation or drive to do something about those challenges. “Even if I do something, will anything actually change?” is a question that she considers often. These are individuals from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, the majority of whom are technologically connected, and might exhibit some past participation in any variety of civic interactions.

Not finding a modern body of work that answered our questions, we conducted a combination of in-person interviews and contextual observations from February to October of 2014, with 101 qualitative participants across six locations in the United States. In addition, we fielded a quantitative survey to 2,058 survey respondents, representative of the U.S. population.

As applied research, this work held two important goals: 1) To inform the design of civic-related products and services at Google, and 2) To support the broader civic tech ecosystem of individuals and institutions working hard to make our civic life more inclusive and meaningful. As with any networked response to a grand challenge, this community is increasingly taking care to deeply understand the very people it aims to engage. We hope that by releasing this research, we can give support to that instinct and collaborate with others toward a more user-driven civic product development approach across the ecosystem.

A note about the geographic focus of this research: Our work is grounded in the premise that it is important for people to engage better civically, wherever they live. However, given the resources available for this research, we opted to focus deeply on one country (the United States) instead of investigating many places more shallowly. In describing our process and methodology, we hope to encourage researchers in other places to complete similar studies of this topic for comparison.

Today, we are excited to share our full qualitative and quantitative findings.

View the full findings report here.
View the deck of key takeaways here.

Top insights
  • According to our research, almost half of the United States adult population could be considered “Interested Bystanders” – 48.9% of people are paying attention to issues around them, but not actively voicing their opinions or taking action on those issues.
  • There is a misalignment between how Interested Bystanders think they should engage civically, and the ways they actually engage. Interested Bystanders are not taking the political actions they say they value. On the flip side, they underrate what they are actually doing now as civic actors. While Interested Bystanders associate the political aspects of civic life with conflict, shame, and negative experiences, they are attracted to the aspects that are about community involvement and social relationships.
  • While Interested Bystanders say that power comes from having a voice, they are disinclined to share their own opinions. Additionally, many Interested Bystanders are uninterested in hearing the opinions of other people.
  • While many Interested Bystanders believe they have the most power at the local level — either because they have greater ability to influence others in their immediate circles, or because they feel proportionally more important in a smaller population — most participants reported voting only at the national level, indicating a tension between their voting choices and their own sense of efficacy.
  • When they do take civic action, Interested Bystanders do things that meet the public interest most often when it aligns with their self interest. They tell us that they are most often motivated by one of three reasons: 1) they have personal or professional experiences to bring to bear, 2) they have personal interests at stake, or 3) they wanted the satisfaction of an emotionally meaningful experience.
  • We encourage you to take a look at the full findings, which include a more expansive set of insights, some Bystander “archetypes” that drove internal product ideation, and the results of a quantitative survey that pioneered the use of discrete choice modeling to conduct a “market segmentation” of the civic spectrum.
Implications of the Research

If you are a civic technologist, there is lots of work to be done! We invite you to consider three implications of our research, in whatever pursuits you have undertaken to make American civic life more inclusive.

  • First, you don't have to design for activists or the apathetic. You can design for Interested Bystanders and still reach a huge market of people and have a huge impact. Neither professionals nor amateurs, Interested Bystanders represent a “moveable” segment of the civic spectrum and we at Google are paying attention to them now because they matter - there are a lot of them.
  • Think about how to reset your strategies for engagement through the lens of somebody who is an Interested Bystander. Perhaps that means new features to help potential users connect their professional skills to community needs; perhaps that means doing better discovery to uncover what interests at stake they are willing to fight for; perhaps that means revisioning the role of emotional meaning and purpose in your interactions with them.
  • Second, we should design civic interventions that flow from everyday Americans’ real motivations, not our own aspirations for them. There is a desire within the civic tech community to find new ways to use technology to bring about broad-scale public engagement. This is a useful energy, and it should be harnessed to help Interested Bystanders activate their actual motivations (self-interest aligned with public interest).
  • We should not continue to make products, design policies, and promote programs that assume some kind of a priori willingness to spend precious time or resources engaged in activities that do not have a clear personal benefit for the intended participants. There are many ways of connecting public needs with personal gains, and we should be more creative about making those links.
  • Relatedly, we should be thinking about how we can help people do the kinds of things they value. Building from a sense of personal efficacy, how can we help people recognize and mine the power they are already exercising? This means an honest reckoning with the role of human self-interest.
  • Third, voting is important, but we can explore in greater depth the civic fulfillment that comes from community and social activities. Elections remain an incredibly important lever of power for the average person, especially at the local level.
  • Interested Bystanders who report voting say they do it out of a sense of civic duty and obligation, but not because they have a clear sense of what impact it has. Many would argue that voting no longer fits the way we live, and Interested Bystanders are not ignorant to this fact. If the election season is the only time we try to engage Interested Bystanders, then they will never feel engaged, precisely for these reasons.
  • However, the electoral process that seems so hollow to them now might fill with meaning if there were a more direct connection to the community and social activities that give them purpose and satisfaction the other 11 months of the year. What would it look like to make this kind of engagement more seamless, and provide direct links back to relevant political topics of public decision-making? This is exciting, because it is an area where technology can really make a difference.
We look forward to hearing what the implications of this research might be for the work that you do. We know that it is going to take a broad coalition of people to realize the kind of inclusive, just, and participatory society we desire and we are glad to be able to contribute knowledge and information to that endeavor.

UPDATE: Watch the full research presentation here.

Posted by Kate Krontiris, John Webb, Chris Chapman, and Charlotte Krontiris
Google Civic Innovation Team

Learnings for the 2016 Campaigns

It’s less than 600 days until the 2016 election, but many campaigns are already assembling their digital strategy for next November. We wanted to showcase a few forward-thinking approaches from last year’s midterm election, so campaigns, committees, and agencies can incorporate these learnings into their 2016 plans.

Content for a digital audience
Though 2014 campaigns could reach specific voter audiences, many times, all groups saw the same repurposed television commercial and not a tailored message for the specific digital audience.

  • In her reelection race for South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley and her agency IMGE, created and promoted a made-for-digital video called “Amanda’s Story,” which highlighted Governor Haley’s anti-bullying efforts. IMGE used TrueView ads to promote the video, targeting it to mothers with school-age children. Read More.
  • Similarly, in the various senatorial and congressional races where they were involved, the US Chamber of Commerce, with the help of the agency Revolution, ran TrueView ads to reach audiences that would be most persuaded by their video content. For Thom Tillis’s North Carolina Senate bid, the Chamber targeted users that were interested in NASCAR with a video of Richard Petty endorsing Tillis. Read More.

  • NextGen Climate Action Committee and Bully Pulpit Interactive used video ads to deliver the right message to the right audience, and they used custom surveys on YouTube to ensure that their message stuck. In key midterm statewide races, survey results confirmed that NextGen Climate's message resonated with the audience that viewed their ads. Read More.

Leveraging all of Google’s tools

There is a full suite of Google products that campaigns can use — Search, Google Display Network, YouTube reserve, YouTube TrueView, DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM). Here are some innovative way campaigns and agencies used and combined these core products in the 2014 midterm races.

  • To aid in Governor Dannel Malloy’s reelection campaign for Connecticut Governor, Connecticut Forward, an affiliate of the Democratic Governors Association, and Rising Tide Interactive efficiently used both YouTube reserve video ads and programmatic to easily pivot their video messaging to complement offline strategy. In expensive TV markets with heavy saturation, Connecticut Forward ran digital-specific video creative to reach audiences with a different message than what was airing on TV. Read More.

  • Throughout Scott Walker’s reelection race for Wisconsin Governor, his campaign followed the ROI. They adapted their search strategy once they noticed a high volume of out-of-state donations and to improve their targeting accuracy, they created mirror Google audience targeting profiles, based on their own psychographic profiles of Wisconsin voters. Read More.

  • From first squeal, Joni Ernst’s campaign and their agency Targeted Victory piggy-backed on the success of their video branding. They drove search traffic from Squeal-related keywords to campaign donation pages, and they created a remarketing list from users that interacted with the Squeal video on YouTube. Read More.
  • Now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection bid for Kentucky Senate leveraged a combination of Google products, right up through Election Day. With the help of their agency Harris Media, McConnell’s campaign used custom mobile and desktop Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) units and magnified their GOTV efforts with a smart search and display strategy. Read More.
What 2016 holds

Online marketing was a ubiquitous part of 2014 election campaigns, and digital’s impact will continue to grow in the coming 2016 races. As campaigns and agencies continue to innovate in the political digital space, we’ll be here to highlight those advancements. Stay tuned!

Posted by Lauren Benson and Coco Pannell, Google Politics & Elections Ads Marketing