Editor’s Note: Since our story published, search results for Kari Lake now show her campaign website on Google’s first page.
Google appears to be skewing search results of Arizona’s gubernatorial candidates to favor the Democratic candidates over the Republicans. AZ Free News monitored search results over the past week and discovered indications of a consistent bias for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs and secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes, over their respective Republican opponents Kari Lake and Mark Finchem.
It’s likely the latest in Google’s history of attempting to sway election outcomes. The Big Tech giant historically referred to their technique of manipulating search results as “ephemeral experiences.” Google has admitted to manufacturing this information in order to change people’s attitudes and behavior concerning politics.
A search of “Katie Hobbs” brings up Hobbs’ website as the first result, followed by top news portraying Hobbs favorably. A sample of articles featured over the weekend: an MSNBC interview that she’s the sane candidate, a Fox News report that she has “Republicans” campaigning for her, a KTAR report that former President Barack Obama will stump for her and Senator Mark Kelly, and an Insider report on Fox News mistakenly screening mock election results of a Hobbs victory.
After those articles, it’s Hobbs’ secretary of state website, her Twitter feed, her Wikipedia page, an endorsement by pro-abortion group Emily’s List, her Ballotpedia, her Facebook, and various coverage of the burglary of her campaign office.
Then there’s the results of a search on “Kari Lake.” Her campaign website doesn’t appear on any of the first 11 search result pages, and doesn’t appear even when omitted results are included. Lake’s website appears sporadically via ads, alongside which there are usually ads asking voters to donate to Hobbs.
Search results for Lake yield a Wikipedia page first, followed by top news portraying Lake unfavorably. Here were some of the articles featured over the weekend: multiple outlets’ coverage of “Saturday Night Live” mocking Lake and other Trump-backed candidates, multiple outlets’ reports on former congresswoman Liz Cheney’s millions and latest ad to defeat Lake, an Arizona Republic report detailing Attorney General Mark Brnovich accusing Lake of running a “giant grift,” and a Politico report on Lake using “MAGA star power.” After those articles, it’s Lake’s Ballotpedia, her Twitter feed, several YouTube videos, a Washington Post article, her Instagram feed, and her Facebook page.
Something similar occurs when voters look up the secretary of state candidates. A search for “Mark Finchem” yields his state legislator profile first, not his website, followed by his Wikipedia page and a collection of “top stories” characterizing Finchem as an “election denier” and target of Cheney’s PAC. Whereas a search for “Adrian Fontes” yields his campaign website first, followed by his Ballotpedia profile, endorsements, social media profiles, and two individual links to news coverage detailing Fontes’ campaign platform. Absent from the first page of results are “top stories” portraying Fontes in any negative light.
The same can’t be said for other races. Google search results for attorney general candidates Abraham Hamadeh (R) and Kris Mayes (D) yield their websites first, followed by Ballotpedia and social media accounts — no top news stories aggregated near the top.