The Advantages (and Limitations) of Using Individual-Level Web Search Data to Study Political Behavior
(International Methods Colloquium, Oct 2018)
Search engines are an omnipresent part of American life. Over 90% of US adults use search engines such as Google or Bing to access information online. These users represent a wealth of data on a wide variety of political behaviors, including political participation, public opinion, and information-seeking behavior. In this talk, I discuss the benefits as well as the limitations of individual-level search data, especially as compared to traditional methods such as surveys. I also present two studies that leverage the unique qualities of search data to measure previously unstudied phenomena in political behavior.