07 November 2008

Fast Food Competition

Today, a look at five major fast food chains: McDonald's vs. Kentucky Fried Chicken vs. Subway vs. Burger King vs. Taco Bell. I used the "Food & Drink" filter in Google Insights for Search.

McDonald's dominated, followed by the intertwined duo of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway that were switching position frequently. Next came Burger King and finally Taco Bell. Interestingly, the growth rate in Google-popularity seemed to decrease more and more from no. 1 to the last one: the field was more separated in the end than in the beginning. Let's show the country rankings for each chain, beginning with McDonald's:

The top 3 was Singapore, Australia and only then the US! How about KFC?

Singapore led again, then Hong Kong and Malaysia; the US didn't even make the top 10... Next, Subway:

This chain displayed a bit of a different pattern: 1. US, 2. Canada and 3. New Zealand. Still, Singapore was fifth. We moved on to Burger King:

The US loved this chain, followed by Germany and—you guessed it—Singapore. Finally, how did Taco Bell fare?

This time we had the US at the top again, then Costa Rica and Canada. Where was Singapore? In sixth place. Overall, Singapore was in the top 6 for all five chains while the US was in the top 3 each time except for its non-appearance in KFC's top 10.

05 November 2008

John McCain vs. Barack Obama (Election Night Speeches)

Last night, US president-elect Obama gave a victory speech in Chicago in front of a 100,000+ joyous crowd in Grant Park; McCain conceded in Phoenix on the back lawn of a luxury hotel with an at times bitter audience of 7,000. I followed the same methodology for their speeches as with the first, second and third presidential debates and the vice presidential debate; you can find some more detail about my methodology there. So let's start with the bubble graph displaying length of words, sentences as well as number of words:

Unsurprisingly, McCain kept it short in every way I measured. Using Wordle, I made all-inclusive word clouds.

John McCain

Barack Obama

McCain mentioned Obama quite a few times, he was after all conceding defeat. As the winner, Obama was looking more ahead, only mentioning his opponent in passing. McCain had many dominant words, esp. campaign, country, thank and variants on America. Obama was more focused with America, tonight, people and new standing out only.

04 November 2008

Our voting experience

Our polling place turned out to be a country club. This is the entrance of the domain, the white blob on the right is the overexposed "Vote Here" sign. Especially welcoming is of course the "Members Only" sign. This Club is way up in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, very hard to reach if you don't have a car. Why are these kind of polling locations allowed? Especially since the primary vote took place in an easily accessible neighborhood church...

A close-up of the "Vote Here" sign at the entrance of the club building (multilingual, this is California after all):

03 November 2008

NO on Proposition 8 in California

Just a quick note: if you're reading my blog in California, you are very likely to see ads for the California Prop. 8 appear between posts. I want to make it perfectly clear that these ads are placed by Google AdSense and are in no way screened or approved by me. These ads I see are actually lying: it is not true that the Obama-Biden presidential ticket supports Prop. 8 as they are very clearly suggesting. Obama is on the record as opposed to anti-gay Prop. 8. For what's it worth, I am a strong opponent of Prop. 8 myself and urge all my CA readers to vote no on Prop. 8.

02 November 2008

Obama vs. McCain vs. Palin vs. Biden in the Last Month: Details

A post on the FiveThirtyEight.com blog (Google Traffic Suggests McCain Not Grabbing Voters' Attention) today looked up the Google-popularity of McCain and Obama, using Google Trends. The author wondered about the context of the Obama searches: maybe they were people looking for dirt, i.e., "proof" for the many slanderous allegations? Well, there's a way to a least get an idea of that and more: use Google Insights for Search
—my standard analysis tool.

I also included Palin and Biden to complete the presidential election picture. This graph showed again that Obama has been in the lead for the past month. Palin at times peaked higher than Obama and was most of the time more Google-popular than McCain. Except for his vice presidential debate, Biden led a quiet life out of the big spotlight ;-) Now, let's have a look at the details underlying this graph. First, the geographical differences for the candidates; then the context of the candidates' searches.
I started with Obama's regional search patterns:

The following states were the most interested in him: New Mexico, Colorado and North Carolina. The remainder of the top 10 were also seen as battleground states at one time or another, except of course the District of Columbia and Illinois. How was McCain's list?

Ohio, New Mexico and Pennsylvania led the top 10. Further down though, the battleground states didn't dominate with McCain: only three more. Furthermore, his home state Arizona wasn't in the top 10. Interesting... Next: Palin.

Her top three was made up of Alaska, Vermont and Oregon: all non-battleground states. In the remaining seven there was similarly only one state that could be called a battleground (Colorado). This seemed to point at her appeal being more as a celebrity than in the strict context of the campaign. Finally, where was Biden the most searched?

Delaware, Vermont and Alaska led his list. Maybe a lot of people in Alaska were trying to find out what their governor was up against? The only battleground state the Democratic VP candidate was Google-popular: Pennsylvania. he has been campaigning a lot there if I'm not mistaken.

In conclusion, Obama was the one who evoked he highest interest in the battleground states. That being said, in what light was he being searched: positive or negative? Here's the list of most common search terms for Obama:

The top 10 was basically positive with searches focusing on the race, polls and debates. The second list on the right shows the "rising" searches, i.e., searches that saw the fastest growth spurt but were not in the top 10. Nos. 4-8 were rather negative: (false) accusations of him not being qualified in a legal sense to run, the ACORN voter registration fraud allegations, the tenuous connection with a '60s terrorist. All in all, the rising searches displayed a half positive (Powell, ...), half negative interest. Republican mud-slinging had only a limited impact. On to his opponent, McCain:

His top 10 was similar to Obama: positive. The "risers" were also all basically positive. Next, Palin.

Five of her top 10 searches related to Tina Fey's parody of her on Saturday Night Live. I don't think that can be classified unequivocally as positive. The other five were the typical contexts of the campaign, debate, etc. When it came to rising searches, about half of them to had a connection with SNL. Last but not least ;-) , Senator Biden...

A basic, positive top 10 was accompanied by as much as four rising searches about the SNL sketch parodying the VP debate.

Clearly, the searches were mostly about the campaign except for some following up on accusations against Obama and regarding the Palin SNL saga.