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Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney Fight for Votes, and Google Searches

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- So Newt Gingrich has taken a sizable lead in the polls with less than a month to go before the Iowa caucuses, with 33 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers currently favoring Gingrich for the GOP nomination, compared to 18 percent apiece for Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. That’s the principal finding in the newest ABC News/Washington Post poll, released Tuesday morning.

If you were on the staff of the Google Politics & Elections Team, you could have predicted that. Google says its searches trend the same way polls do, a little before the polls come out.

On a Google blog, Jake Parillo of their politics team posts graphs of the number of searches for Gingrich and Romney, and says the debate Nov. 9 was a turning point. That night was probably most famous for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s now-famous “brain freeze,” when he blanked out on the third government department he would eliminate -- but Parillo says it was a breakout night for Gingrich.

“With Herman Cain’s pivot from Republican frontrunner to campaign after-thought, Google’s Insights for Search tools is showing former Speaker Newt Gingrich stepping into the void and accelerating his momentum -- just as formalized polling data indicates,” he said.

More from Google’s Parillo:

    “Gingrich has recently taken the lead in searches; beginning in early November, the former Speaker has captured the attention of the country and has taken the search lead in the four early states.

    “Interest in Mitt Romney is on a strong upward trajectory since December 1, indicating that American searchers are narrowing their choices to Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich.”

Do the number of searches for a candidate clearly predict success at the polls? It’s not that simple, of course, but statisticians have shown a clear correlation -- on Google, Twitter and elsewhere -- between a candidate’s popularity and the amount of online traffic he or she generates.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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