I didn’t notice this until Laura Scott pointed it out on Twitter yesterday, but Mitt Romney dominates searches for completely wrong on Google image search.
At first I thought that this was some form of Google bomb perpetrated by liberal leaning digerati, but on investigation it seems to have been self inflicted by the Romney campaign.
The 47 per cent
At a fund raiser in May this year, Mitt Romney had characterised 47 per cent of the US population as ‘government dependent victims. The problem was the the fund raiser had been secretly filmed and the footage made public by people sympathetic to the Barack Obama presidential election bid.
Its the kind of thing that one would expect a candidate to say while looking to fund raise from wealthy people who have more than a passing familiarity with Hayek’s Road to Serfdom.
Mr Romney admitted that his remarks regarding 47 per cent of the electorate were ‘completely wrong‘ during a Fox News interview. This turn of phrase then appeared in coverage alongside pictures of Mitt Romney. As online and print media shared analysis and the highlights of the latest and most important aspects of the presidential campaign.
Completely wrong didn’t really become a meme of the campaign like say George Bush’s ‘read my lips, no more taxes’, or the Conservative party 1979 election print ad slogan ‘Labour isn’t working’. Given Mr Romney’s current standing in the latest opinion polls he seems to have largely put him and Mr Obama within striking distance of each other.
Added to the content, there seems to have been an elevated level of search of the phrase ‘completely wrong‘ presumably as a way of tracking down the relevant Romney campaign coverage, so reinforcing the Google algorithms association between pictures of Mitt Romney and ‘completely wrong‘.
Now that this is a known phenomena the behavioural part of this equation will probably provide even a further strengthened linkage between Mitt Romney and ‘completely wrong‘.
This all tells us a couple of things:
- It will be harder to find bespoke ‘right search’ as Google reinforces the head at the expense of the long tail of search results. Which isn’t great for doing research, or really digging into subject matter. Consumer behaviour is arguably more important than content, which may encourage ‘search bot’ farms
- Politicos will be pondering how to retain coherence in rebuttals without being repeatedly on message and reinforcing a phenomenon like completely wrong. And its going to be hard to go against 1,000s of years of human evolution