Google This ‘Malarkey’: ‘How Old Is’ Joe Biden, Paul Ryan

BY Meena Ganesan  October 12, 2012 at 6:40 PM EDT


The top four search terms during the vice presidential debate. Graphic and data by Google.

From real-time fact checkers to live blogs, tweets, gifs and games, the Internet brought in a trove of analysis, context and laughs Thursday night prior to, during and after the vice-presidential debate.

But what were voters asking for, i.e. Googling, during the 90 minute event?

Google’s Politics & Election data reveals that search terms surfacing related to Vice President Biden included “laughing” and his wife “Jill,” while terms related to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., included “shirtless” and “workout.”

For both candidates, “how old is” was a top searched item.

David Brooks, New York Times columnist and NewsHour regular, had initiated conversation on the vice-presidential candidates’ stark age contrast Thursday during the show’s post-debate analysis.

Ryan, 42, and Biden, 69, have a 27-year age difference.

While Biden grew up in “a generation really hearkening almost back to the New Deal, where politicians were just relaxed,” Ryan grew up in the “television era,” Brooks said.

Correspondent Gwen Ifill noted the historical significance, before adding “So, I wonder if the smiling wasn’t about exacerbating that gap.”

More than Reagan and Mondale, which we heard so much about, you know, the comment that Reagan made about Mondale’s age or lack of inexperience — or experience — and also more than we saw with Cheney and Edwards a few years ago, where there also seemed to be a huge gap.

But Biden’s “laughing” and “smiling” weren’t his only trendsetters. The vice president’s use of “malarkey” provoked an abrupt surge in that word’s Google search interest.


In a minute-by-minute comparison of the two candidates, Google also showed a spike in searches when both Biden and Ryan revealed details from their personal lives.


For more election cycle coverage, visit the NewsHour politics page.