Google is an imperfect oracle of popular will, but here’s one trend that seems pretty clear: Searches for the phrase “registrarse para votar” — “register to vote,” in Spanish — hit an all-time high during Monday’s presidential debate, spiking to more than 100,000 searches.
The term was Google’s third trending search in the United States at 10:30 p.m. Monday, preceded only by two phrases related to the Houston shooting. According to Google, search volume was highest in the ever-important swing state of Florida, followed by New Jersey, New York, Texas and California.
The “trending” designation doesn’t refer to the most popular searches, but the ones that — relative to all other searches — are spiking.
Spanish-language searches for voting information have only neared this interest share on one prior occasion: That was after the first presidential debate in 2012. In the current election cycle, the last comparable spike occurred on Aug. 31, the day Donald Trump made his much-anticipated Phoenix immigration speech, though search volume also increased after both parties’ conventions.
Incidentally, Google just introduced a major expansion to its in-search voting guides, the automated Knowledge Box that provides searchers personalized information on how and when to register in their states. (To be fair, this probably compounded the apparent spike from the debates.) While the box was previously only triggered by English-language searches, queries like “registrarse para votar” or “como votar” now also pull up the guides to registering.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Caitlin Dewey