Trump vs. Clinton: Who Won The Battle For Search?

This year’s race to the White House has been a battleground fought on many fronts. No stone has been left unturned in the marketing mix, from TV ads tying Trump to the KKK to  ‘Crooked Hillary’ snapchat filters, making this the most divisive Presidential election in recent history.

Brandwatch’s analysis of the social media conversation supports this too, with over half the conversation around each candidate defined as negative over the last three months: brandwatchBut with all this mudslinging, how much has actually stuck?

To find out, we’ve taken a look at the stickiest channel of all: search; analysing how effectively Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have controlled their brand – and who tips the balance when searched for online.

Using Google Trends, we took the top three searches for both candidates individually and the top five that compare them, then analysed the first page of US Google search results for each. Here’s what we found…

Most Popular Searches For Donald Trump

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Donald
  3. Trump

bluepost-blog-1-usa-trump-01The first thing we notice is – contrary to what’s found on social media – there’s not a single piece of positive coverage within Donald Trump’s brand space, leaving a huge 37% being negative content from third parties.

The narrative of these splits into two themes, the first is the question surrounding his tax payments – led by USA Today, New York Times and The Atlantic – and the second is more generic personality attacks from TIME, the New Yorker and Michael Moore’s website.

However, these attacks centre on the man as a whole and spend little time discussing the specifics of scandals – such as the sexual allegations made against him.

Trump’s owned content consists of his own website, which in some cases ranks twice with the “policies” page also visible in its own right, along with his Facebook and Twitter channels.

Searches For Hillary Clinton

  1. Hillary Clinton
  2. Hillary
  3. Clinton

bluepost-blog-1-usa-02Hillary’s brand space shows a better balance with only 15% negative and 6% positive.

Interestingly, when looking at the negatives, the website for the Republic Broadcasting Network’s radio show What Really Happened is visible, despite its domain authority of 69, filled with anti-Hillary stories.


Then there’s negative stories from The Atlantic and Slate, which – whilst they do discuss the scandals Clinton’s faced – focus more on the people who dislike her (whether through personal encounters, or gut feel) in well-mannered narratives; helping the Republican message that she can’t be trusted.

So, as with Trump, it’s just a general distrust of the individual that’s the prominent theme.

Looking at the positive third party coverage, CNN’s ranking article backs up the Clinton campaign’s call that they “can’t be thrown off course” and will win the election, whilst TIME’s transcript of her hard-hitting foreign policy speech reinforces her experience for the job against Donald Trump.

Ownership of Clinton’s brand space comes from the same sources as Trump (her website, Facebook and Twitter channels) but with additions of her Instagram channel and the Clinton Foundation, making up for the fact that her own website never ranks twice for one term.

Searches Comparing Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton

  1. Hillary Trump
  2. Trump Clinton
  3. Clinton Trump debate
  4. Debate highlights
  5. Debate fact checker

bpd-blog-usa-graph-bar-v3In the battleground of the comparative searches, Hillary’s the clear winner. Ten of the ranking articles speak of her positively, compared to just one for Trump, and only five speak negatively, compared to Trump’s 22.

The cause of this has been Trump’s desire to spout controversial, unfounded statements throughout his campaign. Whilst this may get people talking, its resulted in some rough soundbites:


And the fact checking articles discrediting the vast majority of his statements. Conversely, Clinton’s safer approach means she’s seen in a better light.

However, when bringing in the sheer number of neutral articles into play, this does reinforce the “lesser of two evils” argument, where Clinton is reluctantly seen as the better candidate.


Back to the original question, what issues stuck? Well, for Donald Trump it was tax and for Hillary Clinton it was email, but – despite all the scandals striking both sides – the prevailing issue for both candidates was a general mistrust of their personality.

When it comes to a control of their brand space, Hillary is definitely the winner for her own terms and for those that pit her against Trump. Even though, in social media, she is actually the more negative candidate.

Arguably, this means that those undecided voters who’ll be making their minds up on November 8th will swing towards Clinton as their candidate of choice. That’s if they use search as a channel for their information, but with over 15million searches happening around these keywords alone, there’s no doubting its influence.

So there we have it, Bluepost’s first (cautious) Presidential prediction. Now all that’s left to do is to sit back and wait for next Tuesday to see if we’re right…