It seems Doug Jones may not be out of the running just yet. While many polls show the Democratic candidate just slightly behind Republican Roy Moore in Tuesday’s special election for Alabama’s vacant Senate seat, new data from Google suggests a sudden uptick in search terms relating to Jones.
The special election has been controversial due to recent allegations against Moore, a state judge with far-right support and a history of homophobic and anti-Muslim political views. Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct or impropriety by eight women, one of whom says she was 14 years old at the time of the incident. Moore has described the allegations as “completely false and misleading.”
Despite numerous Senators calling for Moore to step down, until now the polls have shown a tight competition with Moore just edging it. RealClear Politics polling data averaged from November 27 to December 10 shows Moore leading by 2.2 percentage points. However, a Fox News poll on Monday showed Jones with a 10-point lead, an outlier in the grander scheme of things, but one that suggests the race is not a done deal.
Google Trends also seems to suggest a close call, with voting trends for the two candidates over the last week showing a tight race:
These trends could hide some underlying data points, though. A breakdown of search terms over time shows how Alabama internet users have been searching more, and they’ve been searching Jones:
Users are also inputting search terms to find out more about Jones’ candidacy, while Moore’s terms focus on the allegations:
Google Trends is a useful tool for discovering general interest in a subject, as well as gauging overall movements. Although there are many reasons why a term might trend that goes beyond actual support, the tool detected the surge of interest in Pokémon Go last summer, as well as its subsequent decline soon afterwards. It’s also recently highlighted how HQ Trivia users are cheating the app, one of the first major signs of a change in the trivia game’s use.
The trend data for the Alabama election could be the big signs of a late surge for Jones. Results are expected soon after 8 p.m. Eastern time.