Obama VS Trump – What does Google search trends tell us about the two presidents?

We live in a digital world that connects us to anything and everything. So, It suffices to say that we can get a pretty good look at what’s going on in the real world through the various lenses (search engines, social media platforms) offered by the world of internet. Anything that gets searched/posted/published on the...

We live in a digital world that connects us to anything and everything.


It suffices to say that we can get a pretty good look at what’s going on in the real world through the various lenses (search engines, social media platforms) offered by the world of internet.

Anything that gets searched/posted/published on the internet is indexed and will probably stay there forever. (Yes. They’ll still be there even if you try really hard to erase your digital footprint).

But what can search trends on search engines like Google or Bing and trending topics on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter tell us?  

The topics/terms that people search show what interests them and how that interest changes over time.

  • They reflect the actual thoughts of people and what they talk about in their different social circles.
  • These terms and keywords also mirror the times they’ve been searched on, giving us an insight into the kind of life people have lived and what they experienced or felt.

Here we have a list of search terms that were trending during Barack Obama’s first year of his presidency (2009) and Donald Trump’s first year of his presidency (2017).

And for good measure, we’ve also included a list of search terms that were trending during the first year of Obama’s second term of presidency in 2013.

You might see a clear distinction.

Anyway, we’ll let you be the judge.

Here are the search terms/keywords that were trending during the first year of Obama’s second term of his presidency (2013)

These are the terms that saw a breakout in terms of search.


Obama Nobel Peace Prize – The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the award on October 9, 2009, citing Obama’s promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and a “new climate” in international relations fostered by Obama, especially in reaching out to the Muslim world. Read More.

This term saw a breakout on October 4, 2017.

The Nobel Committee’s decision to award Obama drew (and continues to draw) mixed reactions from US commentators and editorial writers across the political spectrum, as well as from the rest of the world.

There was (and still is) widespread criticism of the Nobel Committee’s decision from commentators and editorial writers across the political spectrum.

Here’s an example. These articles were published and shared in 2017 and 2018, 8 years after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Credit: Social Animal

Here’s where you can view the rest of the articles.


North Korea – This country in East Asia had 5,000,000 average monthly searches from the United States alone and saw a breakout in April with searches reaching 9,140,000.

Now, why did that happen?

North Korea conducted a series of missile and nuclear tests that demonstrated the country’s ability to launch ballistic missiles beyond its immediate region. This suggested that North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability was developing at a faster rate than had been assessed by the U.S. intelligence community. This was coupled with a regular joint U.S.–South Korea military exercise undertaken in August 2017, as well as U.S. threats, raised international tensions in the region and beyond.

Tensions rapidly increased as U.S. president Donald Trump said the U.S. was prepared to act alone to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea. Read more about this issue here

Let’s just say that bloggers, writers, and content marketers were ecstatic and had a never-ending supply of topics and things to write about.

P.s, Fox News, The Hill, and The Washington post are based in the United States.

Credit- Social Animal

To take a look at more popular content and top domains that contributed on any particular topic,

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Impeach Trump – This search query has been constantly trending since January 2017 with average monthly searches reaching 823,000 in the United States.

Why Impeach Trump? But, most importantly what are the efforts taken to impeach trump? Read More

And Now,

For the oblivious reader, Here’s what some of those search terms mean.

Search terms that were trending during Obama’s presidency (1st term – 2009):

Healthcare reform (Trending during – June 2009 to April 2010 )

According to Healthcare.gov, Affordable Care Act (ACA) sometimes known as Obamacare was a reform law that was first proposed by Obama in a speech in 2009. The reform law was finally enacted on March 2010.

The law’s goals include,

  • Make affordable health insurance available to more people.
  • Expand the Medicaid program to cover all adults with income below 138% of the federal poverty level.
  • Support innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the costs of health care generally.

Read more.

Obama Stimulus package (Trending during – Feb 2009 )

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) nicknamed the Recovery Act, was a stimulus package that aimed to save existing jobs and create new ones as soon as possible. Other objectives were to provide temporary relief programs for those most affected by the recession and invest in infrastructure, education, health, and renewable energy.

Read More.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Trending during – April 2009 )

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, provides food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people living in the United States. SNAP benefits temporarily increased with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a federal stimulus package to help Americans affected by the Great Recession of 2007. Read More.

Search terms that were trending during Trump’s Presidency (2017):

Executive order (Trending during – Jan 2017 to October 2017)

According to Wikipedia, In the United States, an executive order is a directive issued by the President of the United States that manages operations of the federal government and has the force of law.

In simpler terms, Executive Orders (EOs) are legally binding orders given by the President, to Federal Administrative Agencies. Executive Orders are generally used to direct these federal agencies and officials in their execution of congressionally established laws or policies. And, Executive Orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress.

Wondering why people feverishly searched for this particular term?

Trump signed a burst of orders (That didn’t need approval) to undo many of President Barack Obama’s policies in his first three weeks alone.

Here’s a complete list of Donald Trump’s executive orders.

Impeachment (Trending SINCE – Jan 2017)

H-1B Visa (Trending during – Jan 2017)

The H-1B is a visa in the United States allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status, find another employer or leave the United States. Effective January 17, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services modified the rules to allow a grace period of up to 60 days but in practice as long as a green card application is pending they are allowed to stay. Read more.

Mueller investigation (Trending SINCE – Jan 2017)

The investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election was taken over by Robert Mueller (73) in May 2017. His investigation has led to charges for four Trump campaign associates. Read more.

What does Trump have to say?

See it for yourself.

Source: Washington Post.

Naturally, Twitter has been in an uproar ever since and here are the top contributors and influencers on twitter who’ve tweeted about the Mueller investigation.  You can also view the articles they’ve shared.

Credit: Social Animal

To view this list and more influencers for any keyword, Sign up for a free trial or log in to Social Animal.

Health care bill (Trending during – May 2017)

The American Health Care Act of 2017 often shortened to the AHCA, or nicknamed Trumpcare, is a United States Congress bill to partially repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Read more about this bill here.

25th Amendment (Trending during – October 2017)

The Twenty-fifth Amendment (Amendment XXV) to the United States Constitution says that if the President becomes unable to do his job, the Vice President becomes the President.

Search terms that were trending during Obama’s presidency (2nd term – 2013)

Zimmerman verdict (Trending during – July 2013)

On April 11, 2012, George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. After sixteen hours of deliberations over the course of two days, on July 13, 2013, the six-person jury rendered a not guilty verdict on all counts.

Immigration reform (Trending during – April 2013 to Oct 2013)

The Senate’s immigration bill, according to Vox would do the following:

  • Provide a path to citizenship that would take 13 years for most of the unauthorized immigrants currently in the country, and less time for agricultural workers and DREAMers.
  • Increase border enforcement by allocating an additional $46.3 billion in funding for border security, and requiring the government to double the number of Border Patrol agents and fencing along the border.

And much more. Click here to know more.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Trending during – October 2013 )

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as PPACA, healthcare reform, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act or the ACA, is a law enacted on March 23, 2010, which issued new rules and guidelines on the offering, administration, and acceptance of health care coverage in the United States. Read More.

Minimum wage (Trending during – Feb 2013)

A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that employers can legally pay their workers.

Why was this search term popular?

Since 2012, there was a growing protest and advocacy movement called “Fight for $15”, which grew out of fast food worker strikes. This has advocated for an increase in the minimum wage to a living wage. And, since the start of these protests, a number of states and cities in the United States have increased their minimum wage.


Search terms/ trending searches – Google trends, Social Animal. ( The search terms and queries were filtered by the category -“Law and Government”) 

Other sources:

Fox news


NBC News


Washington Post


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Sowndarya Kishore is a Content Marketer at Social Animal. A marketer by day and a reader by night, she loves to discuss herself in the third person. Follow her on Twitter.