Trapped in the domestic echo chamber of this year’s frankly insane election season, it’s easy to forget that the entire world is watching. But it is. And depending on the country in which you live, the biggest issues in the U.S. presidential election may not be email servers and genital grabbing but foreign policy, global warming, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
To help put the way the rest of the world is viewing the election in perspective, Google News Lab and Milanese design studio Accurat have put together World POTUS, a tool that helps visualize the volume of search results for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s policy stances on various issues. The idea is that the more often a country or territory searches about a candidate’s standing on a particular issue, the more that country cares about it.
For example, take a search for Donald Trump and oil. By default, World POTUS does not include results from the U.S. in its visualizations, so when you click on the “Oil” tab under the Donald Trump section, you can see that Canada was, perhaps understandably, the country most interested in Trump’s oil ambitions, followed by (perhaps more inexplicably) New Zealand and Ireland.
When you add the U.S.’s results to the visualization, though, things become more interesting, because it turns out that Canada is, on average, more concerned with where Trump stands on oil than America itself! At least as of this writing. World POTUS’s visualizations change every day, so some of what drives it is a nation’s own domestic news cycle. If New Zealand publications are posting more stories about Donald Trump’s oil aspirations that day, for example, you might potentially see a surge in the results.
When viewed this way, it’s easy to see the issues that are of great importance internationally, compared to the ones foreigners care less about. The candidates’ stances on abortion, for example, is pretty much only of interest to Americans. That’s also true for Black Lives Matter and gun control. But click on ISIS, refugees, global warming, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the list of countries searching becomes a lot more diverse. In the end, it makes for an excellent tool for identifying which issues really are national issues, versus which ones are of critical interest internationally.
Given the fact that these results can always change, there are other fascinating takeaways within World POTUS. For example, at the moment, Donald Trump garners considerably more search requests in Africa than Hillary Clinton does. Oceania is responsible for the bulk of the non-U.S. search results on same sex marriage, regardless of candidate. Across the board, every continent is fascinated by where Donald Trump stands on Brexit. And as for the candidates’ positions on health care? Pretty much nobody outside of the North American continent seemingly cares whether Americans get affordable health care or not.