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The Home Stretch

The one political topic most of America is Googling

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.The Boston Globe

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We can learn a lot about ourselves by checking what we’re Googling.

For example, on Sunday, the top 20 most-searched topics in the US included 12 football items (what the heck is a Seahawk, BTW?), three entertainment items (“The Undoing” is ), three political items, and one item each on the weather in Denver and WWE.

But if you take a look at the most common political issues that Americans are searching, there is one topic that is dominating Google since the pandemic shut down the economy in many parts of the country in March: Unemployment.

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Google ranks a search topic’s popularity from zero to 100 based on its relative popularity to other terms that have been searched. Unemployment reached 100 in April and has fallen gradually every month, but it is still outpacing all other topics – health care, crime, wages, immigration, social security, abortion – by a wide margin.

Take a look.

US elections in search 2020.
US elections in search 2020.Google

This probably makes sense, considering the national unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in September, and there are still five states –  Hawaii, Nevada, California, Rhode Island, and Illinois – with double-digit jobless rates.

If you look at just the last seven days, there is only one metropolitan area in the country where health care leads unemployment, and that’s Sioux Falls, South Dakota. North and South Dakota have by far the highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the country over the last seven days.

But unemployment in 2020 is a far more popular topic than any issue from any point in the past 16 years. In fact, the only other topic with a score higher than 20 was health care in March 2010, the month the Affordable Care Act was approved by Congress.

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So how do the most searched terms this year compare to past elections? If you look at the most popular political terms searched in October of each presidential election year since 2004, here are the three most popular topics:

2004: Health care, crime, immigration

2008: Health care, crime, unemployment

2012: Unemployment, health care, crime

2016: Health care, crime, wages

2020: Unemployment, and a three-way tie for second with health care, crime, and wages

Read an important story you may have missed:

How it works:

Poll watching is a staple of American politics. But experts and state elections officials warn that Trump’s rhetoric may lead to Election Day confusion and consternation: There are strict, state-specific rules governing election observers. And, they emphasize, it is illegal to harass and intimidate people casting their ballots. Read more.

New voters:

There are thousands of newly naturalized American citizens across the nation who make up a critical multi-generational voting bloc in this year’s elections. Back in February, the Pew Research Center predicted that immigrants would comprise roughly ten percent of the nation’s overall electorate, following the naturalization of 834,000 people in 2019, an 11-year high. In a country that was built by immigrants, the upcoming election could be decided by them, too. Read more.

The battle for the Senate:

It could take at least another week - after the election - for all the mail-in ballots to be submitted in Alaska’s newly interesting contest, two weeks for all the ballots to be counted in Arizona’s hot race, it will take time for ballots to be reprocessed for ranked-choice voting in Maine to determine a winner, and there could be a crazy post-November campaign in Georgia. Read more.

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The COVID spike:

After a weekend that saw a record-breaking number of new daily coronavirus cases, President Trump falsely claimed on Twitter Monday morning that the latest spike was the result of a “fake news media conspiracy,” and complained about the media’s attention to the pandemic as Election Day draws near. Read more.

Where the candidates are tomorrow:

— President Trump is holding rallies in Pennsylvania on Monday. On Tuesday, he’ll hold rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.

— Joe Biden took questions from supporters outside of a voter service center in Pennsylvania on Monday. He’ll hold two events in Georgia on Tuesday.

What the polls say:

— Nearly every national poll released over the last few days - including YouGov, USC, and IBD/TIPP - has Biden in control of the race. The only poll that has Trump in lead - by 1 point - is Rasmussen.

— A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Biden leading Trump in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona, although only Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are outside the margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Learn something new:

— Hillary Clinton still feels some kind of way about James Comey. In this revealing interview with The New York Times' Kara Swisher, Clinton also discussed how she’s helping candidates this election cycle and what she told the Democrats who wanted to be president. Listen here.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.