The study was done from Oct. 14 through Oct. 20. According to study author Joseph Regan, the two key findings are:
• Mr. Cain garnered 53 percent of Web searches covering the Republican primary candidates. This is a sharp increase from the 2 percent he received just six weeks ago.
• Cain now elicits a higher volume of searches than does Sarah Palin, a feat none of the other candidates managed in previous samples.
If this sounds like an expected reflection of the poll numbers that Cain’s turnaround has engendered, that’s true, analysts say. But coupled with the quick rise and falloff of other front-runners – including Donald Trump, Michele Bachman, and Rick Perry – a compelling pattern is emerging that tells us some interesting context for election 2012.
“This research is dramatic proof backing up the observation that people are dissatisfied with government and are looking for someone to lead us to a better day,” says Villanova political science professor Lara Brown, author of “Jockeying for the American Presidency.” She notes that even during Watergate, Gallup polls showed only 66 percent of Americans dissatisfied with the direction of the country compared with the 81 percent in the most recent poll.
By going to the Internet search engines and feeding in such phrases as “Herman Cain,” “Herman Cain and 9-9-9 tax plan,” “Herman Cain and electric fence comment,” voters are trying to find out who this man is, what he has said, and what he stands for. Once they do find out – as happened with Mr. Trump, Ms. Bachman, and Mr. Perry – the scrutiny leads to dissatisfaction, Professor Brown notes.