If you don’t want to read this whole thing, just check out the graph: Multidimensional Scaling: Republican Candidates – 8/16/2011
I was having a conversation with some friends today and someone mentioned that Rick Perry might have problems in the election because there were rumors he was gay. So I went to google and typed in “Rick Perry is” and google kindly offered me the following auto-complete options: “gay”, “an idiot”, “a rino“, “evil”, “not a conservative”. This got me thinking how this compared with the other candidates google auto-completes. For instance, if you google “Mitt Romney is” you get suggestions like “a mormon” and ” an idiot” as well as three other suggestions. I did this for all of the major candidates (sorry Thaddeus) and recorded the five google auto-complete suggestions.
Then I created a vector for each candidate based on the google auto-complete words. Each candidate was an observation and each word was a variable. The candidate would get a 5 if the word was first on their list, a 4 if it was second, and so on with a 0 if the word was not mentioned in their auto-complete.
I then used multidimensional scaling (the cmdscale function in R) to allow me to visually display the relative positions of the candidates to each other. This all led to this graphic: Multidimensional Scaling: Republican Candidates – 8/16/2011. The location of the circles is based on multidimensional scaling, the size of the circle is relative to their standings in a national poll taken from fivethirtyeight.com, and the top five google auto-completes are displayed in or near the appropriate circle.
- Every single candidate has the term “an idiot” in either the first or second auto-complete term
- 3 candidates were listed as “hot” (Palin. Bachmann, and Romney)
- “stupid” was only used to describe women
- Perry and Santorum (who has a much bigger google problem that anything I’ve listed here) had “gay” listed in their autocpmpletes and Pawlenty had “definitely not gay”
- Bachman and Palins circles are nearly identical in size (11.7% ad 11.4%, respectively) and words (they share “an idiot”, “hot”, and “stupid”)
- “a douchebag” appears in auto-completes for Santorum, Gingrich, and Pawlenty. I imagine it will be hard to win with this word attached to your name. (John Kerry couldn’t do it.)
- The only overwhelmingly positive google auto-complete was for Herman Cain whose fifth auto-complete option was “awesome”