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Voters have one issue on their mind more than anything else, based on Google data

Published Nov 3rd, 2020 8:56AM EST
Election Day 2020
Image: Kevin Dietsch - Pool via CNP/MEGA

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  • Election Day 2020 is finally here, and it will be an extraordinary contest for so many reasons between President Trump, running for re-election, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • The country remains in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, and the economy has subsequently taken its biggest hit since the Great Depression.
  • Accordingly, Google Search data reveals that “unemployment” was among the top-searched political issues by voters over the past seven days.

As voters head to the polls today to either re-elect the 45th president of the United States or to give the job to #46, it’s worth taking a step back to regard just how extraordinary Election Day 2020 will be. A deadly pandemic is still raging across the US — and getting worse, setting up the cruelest winter that’s befallen the country in so many years. Voters who cast a ballot today will do so in socially-distanced lines, most likely wearing face masks, and will interact with poll workers who’ve likely donned some measure of PPE to protect themselves. Tens of millions of Americans have already voted, a function of the coronavirus crisis which led a record number of Americans to want to skip the Election Day lines altogether in order to cast their ballot early.

Meanwhile, some of the preparations ahead of the Election Day showdown between President Trump and former Vice President Biden can seem downright surreal — and strikingly out of place in most people’s idea of the American experience on voting day. A huge fence that people won’t be able to scale, for example, has been erected around the White House as a precaution against election-related unrest. Businesses in many cities began boarding up to protect themselves against any riots, and United Airlines quietly moved its flight crews out of downtown hotels in several prominent cities around the country so that any protests or unrest didn’t disrupt the sleep that these crews need to get. That’s according to an email sent out to those crews from inflight administration at United.

Obviously, these words are being written in advance of the outcome of the November 3 election. But we can make some guesses as to what’s on voters’ minds as a collective — and which issues will drive the results that emerge from Tuesday.

Google certainly helps in that regard. One way you can get a measure of what political issues are driving voters is by studying Google Search data and trends. And of the following five issues voters were searching Google for over the last seven days (unemployment, crime, the Supreme Court, health care, and race), one issue was far and away the most-searched-for on Google Search over the prior week. Take a look below:

Based on this alone, it would seem that whichever of the two presidential candidates gives voters the most assurance that he can reverse the staggering amount of unemployment in this country — that candidate probably stands a good chance of being the next occupant of the White House. Of course, the thing driving all the record unemployment around the US right now is the coronavirus pandemic, which sent the economy reeling to a degree not seen since the Great Depression.

And, as of Monday night, the latest Johns Hopkins University data shows that almost 9.3 million cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus had been reported in the US, in addition to more than 231,000 deaths related to the pandemic. Truly unprecedented times.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.