Whether it was her thoughtful answer on reparations and race in America or simply a “dark psychic force” taking over, Marianne Williamson intrigued viewers enough to secure the position of top-searched candidate on the Detroit debate stage Tuesday night.
Viewers watched Williamson speak in her lilting Texan twang, reminiscent of Jim Carrey’s impression of Matthew McConaughey driving a Lincoln, for not even nine minutes; the only person who spoke less was Colorado governor and sweater-vest enthusiast John Hickenlooper. But the self-help author and Oprah darling shot to the top of Google Trends’ ranking on the first night of the second round of debates, ahead of front-runners Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
She was also the top searched in every state, except Montana, where residents found the need to google debate newcomer Steve Bullock who, it turns out, is their governor.
This isn’t the first taste of search-result victory for the writer and inspirer of crystal ball emojis. Williamson also emerged as the most searched during the closing statements at the first round of debates, during which much of America was first introduced to Williamson and her promise to “harness love for political purposes.”
This time around, Williamson continued to spurn “wonkish policy” in favor of love-conquers-evil mantras. One area where this seemed to be effective was in the segment about race relations, during which Williamson spoke the most and communicated her stance on $500 billion in debt payment for slavery reparations. “I believe that anything less than $100 billion is an insult,” she said. “So many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface.”
Many viewers still lambasted her as a kook with a shaky grasp of scientific concepts, while others more seriously formed a comparison between her and the sitting president, broad-stroking them both as celebrities without policy substance who propel to the top because of their screwball intrigue and promise to “shake things up.”
But it’s fair to say that while Trump’s strategy (and entire life philosophy) is to fire ugly barbs at opponents, an NBC News graphic showed that Williamson is staying out of the wrestling mud pit. She remained unattacked during last night’s debate and was the only candidate to not attack a rival.
— NBC News Graphics (@NBCNewsGraphics) July 31, 2019
Scholar Filippo Trevisan wrote Wednesday in The Washington Post about the Google Trends ranking, advising people to perhaps not make so much out of the statistic. While top trends suggest a surge, they don’t show an absolute value. (In other words, a surge of 100% seems impressive, but it could be an increase of 1 searcher to 2.) More valuable, says Trevisan, are the trend “peaks” that show at what specific points during the debates googlers are searching for candidates.
Still, there’s no question that Williamson is a riveting divergence for masochists who, like us, inexplicably tuned in for three hours of The John Delaney Show. Whether these trends transform into concrete votes remains to be seen, but on Tuesday, love won—at least on Google.com.