Following on from my Prospect article, I’ve been wondering about a perception that we seem to be using and discussing terms like ‘centrist’ and ‘centrism’ now, though there’s also the chance of it being selective perception on my part, given my PhD topic. So, as evidence that it’s not just in my head, here’s what Google has to say about it.

In all of these graphs, the blue line represents how much people are searching for ‘centrist’, the red line how much they’re searching for ‘centrism’. ‘Centrist’ is almost always the most searched of the two terms. The global graph is quite jittery (indicating it’s not searched very often so small ups and downs in the number of searches make big changes in the graph) but has two clear early peaks around the end of 2004 and 2008 (possibly connected to the US Presidential elections then) and then rises as we get closer to the present day.

Breaking it down by country…

We see the 2004 and 2008 peaks on the graph for the US, which are a bit more prominent than they are in the global trends, and the rise towards the present day isn’t as big as it is globally, but still above the 2004 and 2008 peaks.

The UK graph has a much more pronounced rise in recent months, with the only noticeable peak before that in February 2005 – and no, I can’t work out why that might be.

Canada gives us a slightly different picture, with a generally higher average trend than the US and UK, but still with the current rise. There is an earlier peak there, around the end of 2005, which might be linked to the Canadian federal election that took place in January 2006.

I’ve done those three as an example, but there definitely does seem to be a rise in searches for ‘centrist’ and ‘centrism’ over the last year or so, which is interesting, though for now I’m just going to leave it at presenting you with the data and seeing what theories you come up with to explain it, rather than putting forward my own.