Forget Donald Trump: Pokémon Go Was King Of 2016

Make America ~game~ again.

The question at the top of many Americans’ minds in 2016 might surprise you.

In a year that boasted both a presidential election and the Olympic Games, the top question people were searching for on Google was actually, “What is Pokémon Go?” This data, recently released by Google, is based on searches that began with “What is...” and had the highest spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2016 as compared to 2015.

So, why all the curiosity? After launching on July 6, Pokémon Go became possibly one of the most viral mobile apps of the year. It immediately attracted old-school Pokémon fans and newcomers alike. Similar to the original concept of the game, the mobile app allows players to virtually track and capture wild Pokémon in real life. 

Here are the other top “What is...” questions people were searching for in 2016: 

2. “What is a caucus?”

A caucus occurs when registered members of a political party meet to elect a political candidate for their respective party. A total of sixteen states hold caucuses to select political candidates, with Iowa holding the first and most influential caucuses. The Iowa caucuses took place on February 1 this year, resulting in a win for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, and a win for Ted Cruz on the Republican side.  

3. “What is Brexit?”

Brexit, also known as the British Exit, refers to the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union on June 23. The vote to exit, which only won by a slim margin, came as a shock to many and caused the British pound to fall to its lowest value in decades. Interestingly, Google searches for Brexit spiked after the vote took place.


4. “What is the Electoral College?”

The Electoral College is made up of 538 electors. Every state gets one elector for each of their members in the House of Representatives and two for each of their Senate members. On December 19, the Electoral College officially voted for Donald Trump as president of the United States. 


5. “What are electoral votes?”

A majority of 270 electoral votes is needed to elect the president of the United States. When the Electoral College cast its votes on December 19, Donald Trump earned a total of 304 votes, while Hillary Clinton received 227.

6. “What is Aleppo?”

Aleppo, once the largest city in Syria, has been subjected to extreme violence due to battles between the Syrian government and rebel forces. In July, assistance with food and medical supplies was cut off as fighting in Aleppo intensified, causing conditions to worsen and putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk. On December 22, the Syrian army announced that it had taken back control of all of Aleppo, “ending four years of rebel resistance in the northern Syrian city,” Reuters reported

This search query also likely spiked due to Gary Johnson, who infamously asked, “What is Aleppo?” during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

7. “What is the mannequin challenge?”

The mannequin challenge is a viral video trend in which people are challenged to stand still ~like a mannequin~ while the camera moves through a scene. Searches for this spiked in October, when the first mannequin challenge video went viral on Twitter.  

We think Ellen Degeneres pretty much nailed it though.


A video posted by Ellen (@theellenshow) on


8. “What is the European Union?”

The European Union is a political union comprised of 28 countries. The union benefits from certain membership privileges and also is subjected to binding laws and regulations. The union’s members must agree unanimously to policies concerning foreign affairs and defense. Google searches for the European Union spiked after the Brexit vote

9. “What is Citizens United?”

Citizens United refers to a law case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which addresses organizations’ campaign spending. Google searches for the case spiked in July, right around when Hillary Clinton pledged a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United in her first 30 days should she be elected president. 

10. “What is a Superdelegate?”

A Superdelegate is an “unpledged delegate to the Democratic convention.” In other words, a Superdelegate is not required to abide by the results of the caucuses or primaries, and can support any candidate of their choosing at the convention. It appears Google searches for this question spiked right around the New Hampshire primaries, when there appeared to be general confusion as to why the delegate count between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was so close

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