Let me show you a picture:
The blue regions of the country show more interest in BJP, whereas the red regions show an interest in Congress.
If you could ever capture the big Congress revival in one single image, this would be it.
So, how does this image tie-up with the headline of this post? That’s because this is a snapshot of Google trends from Sept 1, 2018, to Dec 1, 2018: the three months that led up to the big Assembly polls in Hindi heartland states. Observe how all three states, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are visibly lighted up in red splashed across the face of India. Here is the rest of that screenshot:
Yes, all this while people were calculating and guessing about results of Hindi heartland states, Google knew. In its infinite wisdom, Google knew what was going to happen. The writing was on the wall.
As with the rest of the world, India is slowly waking up to the power of big data. Think about it. If you knew what every person in the country was thinking, you would know who is winning the election. And today that “every” person has a smartphone and access to the internet, Google knows what people are interested in.
Now let us see what Google trends say about the last 3 months (BJP vs Congress)
What a change! From big splashes of red to a uniform ocean of blue (Fun question: Can you name the tiny northeastern state in the corner which appears to be the only state in red?)
Google’s wisdom is clear. BJP is winning.
Okay, just to make sure we are not picking up aberrations: we all know BJP got a spike in popularity after air strikes in Balakot. Is this lead still there?
So here is the data for the last 1 month.
And for the last 7 days:
Hardly any change, with exception of (undivided) Andhra Pradesh where BJP has hardly any stakes. Interestingly, notice how the graphic also shows that the BJP’s advantage is highest in West Bengal and Odisha. The two “greenfield” states that BJP is hoping to capture.
A few days back, I said that the best barometer for how BJP perceives Bengal will be visible in the PM’s campaign. If he goes to smaller places to do rallies, it means he senses a high return from Bengal. You can see PM Modi spending time in Buniadpur in West Bengal for a massive rally 3 days ago. I swear I had never heard of this place before in my life. Apparently, it’s somewhere in North Bengal. Modi going to these “unknown” places means he senses victory.
You know what ‘liberals’ are going to say at this point. That BJP voters are “urban upper caste rich, blah blah blah…” and hence BJP would get over-represented on the internet. They do not even know how outdated such thinking is.
The internet revolution has been around a long time. Which means that BJP lost its “first mover advantage” a very long time ago on the internet. This is not 2014. Anybody who is on social media and does not have their eyes closed will say that the Congress online propaganda machine is formidable… and in many ways more nimble-footed than that of BJP.
In fact, this is one of the reasons I put up the Google trends data from September to December 2018 at the top of my post. It acts as a “control” for us to check the effectiveness of Google Trends as a barometer. We now know that except for Chhattisgarh, there was no wave at all for Congress in the Hindi heartland. The Congress barely scraped through in both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. And yet, Google Trends data managed to pick up this tiny excess of Congress over BJP.
Shows you how sensitive Trends data is in picking up even a slight pro-Congress mood. In Madhya Pradesh, Congress didn’t even get more votes than BJP. But Google Trends was still able to pick up the fact that Congress voters were perhaps a wee bit more enthusiastic than BJP.
So the fact that BJP uniformly leads over the Congress right now according to Google Trends tells you who is winning.
Let’s take a moment to look at the personalities. What about Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi? The numbers are so bad for Rahul Gandhi, this is almost embarrassing for him.
Whoa! Don’t just look at Modi’s lead. Look at the scale of it.
In the most crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, Modi leads 92% to 8%! According to Google, the interest in Modi is 12 times as much as the interest in Rahul!
In fact, other than TN or Kerala or Nagaland, there isn’t a single state where Modi’s number is below 80%. In Maharashtra, it is 83%. It is 91% in Bihar, 88% in Bengal and 86% in Odisha! Rajasthan is at 88% and Madhya Pradesh at 85%. Those are huge numbers!
How will a party get votes if people do not have the slightest interest in what their leader has to say?
It seems that despite all the big image makeovers and non-stop praise from Lutyens, the common person in the country simply isn’t interested in what Rahul Gandhi has to say.
It’s fairly clear: Congress hasn’t managed to get its message out. If you ask Google Trends, this election is over. The writing is on the wall.