Predata Research Reveals Heightened Public Concerns over Government Shutdowns and Debt

Research from
Predata reveals enlightening trends in online attention from the public and where the concerns of the U.S. people lie. The data indicates a noticeable time gap between when the general public started to get concerned about the debt ceiling crisis versus when professional audiences did. 

Data Shows Skyrocketing Online Attention From the Public 

Predata found that the general public was highly concerned about U.S. government shutdowns on May 20 and 21. While online research into U.S. government shutdowns dropped off as usual over the weekend from professional audiences (using desktop devices), online research from the general public (mobile traffic) remained elevated. 

Heightened web traffic over the weekend from people browsing on their phones indicates a growing level of concern around the prospect of a government shutdown. On Monday, May 22, online attention peaked to both government shutdowns and public debt, demonstrating the weekend was truly the shifting point in the level of concern about an upcoming shutdown related to the debt ceiling.

This chart from Predata shows mobile traffic to web pages on U.S. government shutdowns and government debt defaults. Attention to U.S. government shutdowns continues to trend higher than attention to government debt defaults, a gap that indicates the U.S. public is most concerned about a government shutdown amid the debt ceiling negotiations.

The level of online attention from both mobile and desktop internet users to U.S. government shutdowns reached its highest since November 2022, at the same time the level of online attention to U.S. public spending and debt reached its highest since January 2021. 

Concerns Are Focused on Government Shutdown

Predata also found research on mobile devices is relatively lower on sovereign debt default compared to research on the debt ceiling and government shutdowns. 

This suggests the U.S. public didn’t grasp the distinction between a shutdown and a default and that they were more interested in web pages about government shutdowns. Higher web traffic to pages on government shutdowns implies that the general public was more concerned about the prospect of a shutdown than a default.

“Our data showed that the weekend of May 20 was the moment this crossed the threshold of attention for the U.S. public,” says Molly Dwyer, vice president of analysis at Predata. “People were concerned enough to find out information during their personal time, implying they were concerned about the outcome.” 

“Some voters may not fully understand the distinction between a government shutdown — something that is comparatively limited and now somewhat routine — and an unprecedented default, which could drive up interest rates on home mortgages and credit cards, and raise the unemployment rate by as much as 5 percentage points,” NBC News reported

Stay Proactive to Prepare for the Future

Predata has the powerful ability to quantify shifts in online attention, providing a holistic view of web pages people land on and drilling down into traffic from internet users. Predata continues to monitor differing levels of online research and areas of concern from the general public versus professionals. 

This provides a look at how a range of audiences are perceiving the debt ceiling and other geopolitical and legislative conflicts. As attention shifts, Predata is able to provide actionable insights into the public’s focus. This intel enables government and commercial organizations to better understand and anticipate the public’s concerns so they can better protect their strategies and operations. 

Predata allows clients to explore shifts in attention on a global scale, uncover indicators and warnings about risk factors, and observe how online browsing behavior changes over time. “We quantify ‘the other side of the internet,’ and our data goes back historically, allowing users to compare what is normal and isolate what is unusual,” Dwyer explains. Historical baselining helps compare different behaviors when something breaks through the norm. 

With Predata, staying on top of critical issues has never been easier, providing you with real-time information on what is getting attention from a particular audience and enabling your organization to make timely strategic decisions.

UPDATE Jun 1, 2023: The House passed a bill Wednesday night to suspend the debt limit past the 2024 elections, sending to the Senate a bipartisan package designed to avert a financial crisis when borrowing authority runs out next week. On a bipartisan 314-117 vote, the House endorsed legislation negotiated by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden that would couple debt limit relief with caps on discretionary spending.