Political Insights: Exploring partisanship in Web search queries

  • Erik Borra University of Amsterdam
  • Ingmar Weber Yahoo! Research Barcelona
Keywords: political search, query log, political blogs, partisanship, search engine, social science, measuring collective preferences, public attention, digital methods


We developed Political Insights, an online searchable database of politically charged queries, which allows you to obtain topical insights into partisan concern. In this paper we demonstrate how you can discover such political queries and how to lay bare which issues are most salient to political audiences. We employ anonymized search engine queries resulting in a click on U.S. political blogs to calculate the probability that a query will land on blogs of a particular leaning. We are thus able to ‘charge’ queries politically and to group them along opposing partisan lines. Finally, by comparing the zip codes of users submitting these queries with election results, we find that the leaning of blogs people read correlates well with their likely voting behavior.

Author Biographies

Erik Borra, University of Amsterdam
Erik Borra is PhD candidate and lecturer at the University of Amsterdam's Media Studies department. He is also lead developer for the Digital Methods Initiative, the PhD research program in New Media at the University of Amsterdam.
Ingmar Weber, Yahoo! Research Barcelona
Ingmar Weber is researcher at Yahoo! Research Barcelona. He works on query log analysis, often with a demographic angle, and on large scale information extraction from Web content.
How to Cite
Borra, E., & Weber, I. (2012). Political Insights: Exploring partisanship in Web search queries. First Monday, 17(7). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v17i7.4070