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What Conservatives and Liberals Find On Yahoo! Search

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, November 30 2011

Depending on political preference, the year 2012 portends either a wholesale revocation of the Second Amendment or a Hillary Clinton presidential run.

That's according to data from Yahoo, which last week quietly launched a Yahoo Labs "Political Insights" tool. Using data from May 2010 to January 2011, the tool analyzes click-through rates to 155 top U.S. political blogs with a particular political leaning.

When it comes to queries that contained the term "2012," neither of them seem necessarily focused on President Barack Obama. Search queries that were more likely to result in click-throughs to liberal-leaning political blogs were, for example, "jeb bush for president 2012," "who will run for president in 2012" and "hillary clinton 2012." Search queries on the Republican side were more likely to be "vote in sarah palin for president 2012 poll," "republicans in 2012," "the obama administration will take away our 2nd amendment rights by 2012" and "senators up for reelection in 2012." Searches that were more centrist-leaning were "2012 senate map" and "2012 redistricting."

Searches for the term "president" are also revealing. While searches to Democratic blogs are more likely to be "list of president obama accomplishments," Republican searches were "mike pence for president," "john thune for president" and "mitch daniels for president," none of whom are, of course, running.

As the about page explains:

Several steps ensure that the queries are considered relevant by many users. After removing navigational queries and normalizing for spikes in the query volume, we filter the data to only retain queries made by multiple users, resulting in a click-through to at least three political blogs. Besides, we remove queries with a very high query volume which only result in click-throughs to very few political blogs. This last step prevents a particular blog setting the agenda.

Among the sites considered liberal are thinkprogress.org, alternet.org and huffingtonpost.com. Sites considered conservative are michellemalkin.com, littlegreenfootballs.com and freerepublic.com.

The about page further notes:

In order to ground our methodology, we validated our data set with voting polls of the 2010 U.S. House of Representative elections. It turns out that people visiting blogs of a particular leaning are more likely than random chance to share a ZIP code with voters with that leaning.

The categorization of the blogs is based on the paper "A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right" by Yochai Benkler and Aaron Shaw" published by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

According to Yahoo, the project is an intermediate output of collaboration between Yahoo! research labs Barcelona and the University of Amsterdam's Digital Methods Initiative.