Minnesotans Googled these Democratic candidates the most throughout 2019

Less than two months before the state's presidential primary elections, former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the state's own Sen. Amy Klobuchar are running a close race for Minnesotans' attention — that is, if their Google searches are any indication.

Weekly search data provided by Google for 2019 shows that among the fragmented field of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, the attention of Minnesotans has veered between front-runners. Boosts in search interest often correlated with official campaign announcements, debate performances and other news relevant to the race.

Political analysts have long debated the usefulness of Google trends to gauge public sentiment in politics. Although most agree search queries cannot predict voter intent, the data have at times provided interesting indicators.

For instance, during 2016's presidential primaries, trends data showed significant interest in Sanders' candidacy before he went on to win Minnesota's caucus that year.

Google Trends indexes interest of a search term on a scale from 0 to 100. Those rated 100 have the maximum amount of interest for a time and location, and other scores are relative to that.

The final full week of December's Google search ranks showed Sanders again surging in interest among Minnesotans, with Biden following closely behind. Businessman Andrew Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii, also ranked higher than their starting points in 2019.

Google Trends search interest by candidate, week ending Dec. 29, 2019
Google Trends search interest by candidate, ending week of each month, 2019

Joe Biden
Overall Google Trends index: 100
Bernie Sanders
Overall Google Trends index: 91
Amy Klobuchar
Overall Google Trends index: 77
Elizabeth Warren
Overall Google Trends index: 62
Pete Buttigieg
Overall Google Trends index: 61
Andrew Yang
Overall Google Trends index: 49
Tulsi Gabbard
Overall Google Trends index: 39
Michael Bloomberg
Overall Google Trends index: 14
Tom Steyer
Overall Google Trends index: 9
Michael Bennet
Overall Google Trends index: 6
John Delaney
Overall Google Trends index: 4
Deval Patrick
Overall Google Trends index: 2

Search interest also can be examined geographically, with some areas of the state showing more curiosity about one candidate more than others..

Across 2019, Joe Biden was indexed highest in many Minnesota counties, while queries about Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders also demonstrated the broadest interest.

Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang also took some scattered top spots.

Google Trends search interest by Minnesota county, 2019

As the presidential field winnows and the DNC debate stage shrinks – this month's had the smallest roster for this cycle yet – search interest could also get closer and more competitive.

Polling for Minnesota's primary during Super Tuesday on March 3 has been sparse, and how closely search interest correlates to voting results remains to be seen.