One Question Quiz
Secrets of the search bar (Image: Archi Banal)
Secrets of the search bar (Image: Archi Banal)

PoliticsOctober 10, 2023

What are we asking Google about New Zealand political leaders?

Secrets of the search bar (Image: Archi Banal)
Secrets of the search bar (Image: Archi Banal)

It doesn’t always reflect well on us.

As the campaign enters the home straight, it’s a useful moment to check in on what is piquing people’s interest at New Zealand’s largest place of learning, by which I mean the popular search engine Google.

Some of the most intriguing – and, let’s face it, creepy – results are to found in the autocomplete fields, which we’ll get to in a bit. But first, here are some of the top-line numbers.

Nicola Willis announced last week that more than 250,000 people had used National’s online tax calculator, and that hip-pocket enthusiasm is reflected in the searches for campaign topics. Unchallenged at the top of the topic pops over recent months: tax.

Speaking of that which is certain, and leaving the election to one side for a second …

Just for a moment at the end of May, tax defeated death, presumably something to do with filing returns.

Back to the subject at hand: how much search interest is there in the different parties? Is that the next government we see in the top two? Or three? Or … Top!

 As for the party leaders, there is a clear top of the pops.  

Say what you like about Winston Peters, but he knows how to time a run. Especially when that run is fuelled by some headline-making comments from the National Party.

What explains the alpine peaks above? On September 10 Peters spoke about Māori not being indigenous. September 19 was the first leaders’ debate with the two Chrises. On the 25th, Luxon announced that he would pick up the phone and work with Peters if necessary.

How about the others? James Shaw evidently made an impression in the 1News multiparty debate.

Our biggest election-related search inquiries are these …

I regret to inform you the third search above does not supply a definitive answer.

Moving swiftly on, then, to the predictive shortcuts offered by Google; you know, when you start typing in the search field and it offers to finish your question for you. These reflect, to a substantial degree, what users at large are curious about. (Yes, I did these searches in Incognito mode, lest my own peculiar interests spike the drink.)

Let’s begin with the man in pole position to become next prime minister.

To take the first three: yes, -ish, and no, that’s literally a different name. As is typical with these things, we reveal ourselves to be a bit weird and nosey, but it’s redeemed by that probing last question.

I would like to see the question put to Hipkins in the final debate on Thursday night: are you good? That and, of course, “does chris redfield die in the movie?” (The answer to this Resident Evil question seems to be, “He was left to rot in a cell.”)

Similarly those last three questions need to be put to the Green Party co-leader. I like to think, too, that people searching for minyon from bridezilla sometimes find themselves directed to the Green Party website.

This is like an evening at the full moon drum circle.

Is Winston Peters good? Is this how people decide how to vote?

David Green does seem to be Jane Seymour’s boyfriend and I hope he changes his name.

According to Wikipedia he is related to Taika, but there’s no source given.

A triptych for Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Strange, yes, but maybe also a poem.

Keep going!