There was enough political theatre in Washington today to put the Kennedy Center to shame. As Team EdSurge watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's controversial speech to Congress, we were reminded once again that we in the United States are never more than a year removed from a national election.
And that got us thinking: Education, and specifically the Common Core, was a big issue in the 2014 mid-term elections. But just how big was it? Bigger than Syria? Than tax reform? Than Obamacare?
To get our answer, we turned to Google Trends. We queried the site to find the relative search frequency of key 2014 election issues. To our surprise, the term "Common Core" was searched for a lot--more, in fact, than many other key issues in the 2014 election.
Google trends data shows that, after April 2014, "Common Core" and "abortion" regularly swapped places at the top of the search chart. Common Core also dominated search between mid-August and the two weeks prior to the November 4th election. During that time, searches for "Obamacare," "tax reform" and "Immigration reform" never came close to the volume of "Common Core."
To be sure, not all of the search traffic for any of these terms was 100% connected to the election. In particular, the drop in searches for Common Core during the Summer and Thanksgiving break suggests that many of the searches were by teachers looking for "Common Core materials/activities" etc. Similarly, searches for "gay marriage" and "Syria" each spike on big non-election-related news on those issues, before falling to much lower levels.
But this data still suggests that the Common Core was an issue important to politicians and voters in 2014. Our prediction is that this importance isn't going anywhere.
Finally, just to put everything in perspective, remember that even politics has no power over some forces of nature. Not a single issue can hold a candle to the search traffic generated by everyone's favorite pop star.
Note: The second graph in this article has been updated to clarify the scale of the y-axis.