2008 Presidential Election Candidate Reputation Study

UPDATE Feb 2008: We’ve updated the results ahead of Super Tuesday. See why we predict victory for Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama.


June 2007 Presidential Election Candidate Reputation Study

Fifteen of the eighteen declared 2008 presidential candidates have negative search engine listings associated with their name, with both Republicans and Democrats achieving less than 50% positive sentiment, according to new research from Marketing Pilgrim, an internet marketing blog and consultancy. The study examined the search results for the names of ten Republican and eight Democratic candidates across the first twenty search results on Google and Yahoo. Democrats Barack Obama and Mike Gravel along with Republican Ron Paul were the only candidates with no negative search engine results.

The study was carried out in June 2007 and involved examining the first twenty search results for each candidate’s name to determine the number of pages with positive, negative or neutral sentiment. A “positive” sentiment was allocated to pages that were controlled by the candidate or contained messaging the candidate would likely approve of. A “negative” sentiment was given to any page that the candidate would likely not wish to have associated with their name. A “neutral” sentiment was used for any page that did not directly relate to the candidate (for example, someone that shared the same name as the candidate) or to a page that contained balanced, non-partisan content.

Key findings include:

  • Republican candidates managed only an average 42% positive sentiment search results, with Democratic candidates not fairing much better (45%).
  • Of those candidates with the most name recognition, only Barack Obama achieved zero negative sentiment results.
  • Candidates with the most negative sentiment were Republicans Tommy Thompson (22.5%) and Tom Tancredo (12.5%) and Democrats Joe Biden (15%), John Edwards and Hillary Clinton (both 10%).
  • Candidates with the most positive sentiment were Democrats Dennis Kucinich (55%) and Hillary Clinton (52.5%) and Republicans Ron Paul (70%) and Jim Gilmore (52.5%).

“The study demonstrates that with more than a year to go until the 2008 presidential election, candidates are not fully managing their search engine reputation,” said Andy Beal, founding principal of Marketing Pilgrim. “As the election race heats up, voters will be influenced by what they discover on the web. A single negative Google result could be enough to lose the election.”

Here are the full results of the study:

External link to the spreadsheet.

Note: We didn’t include Fred Thompson as he had not officially declared his candidacy at the time of our study. However, we did measure his search engine reputation. For those interested – over Google and Yahoo’s top 20 (40 results) he had 11 positive, 1 negative and 28 mixed.

Contact Andy Beal for more information.