Opinion: Time got it right

Lucas Misera

On Wednesday, Time Magazine announced President-elect Donald Trump as the 2016 Person of the Year, perhaps to the dismay of many. No matter one’s opinion on Trump’s character, however, it’s clear: he was – for better or worse – the most influential figure this year.

Through fiery rhetoric that riled up a long-neglected subset of the Republican voter base, Trump took the political scene by storm. His unexpected rise to power earned him Time’s distinction over a crowded field that included Beyonce, Flint whistleblowers and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

If you’re not convinced Trump was truly the person of the year, the data would suggest otherwise.

Google Trends, a tool that analyzes how frequently names or phrases are searched through the browser over time, indicates Trump dominated the internet for a majority of 2016.

When compared to Beyoncé, the pop star passed the president-elect only twice in search popularity: once in February when she performed at halftime of the Super Bowl, and once in April when her album “Lemonade” was released. Other than these two week-long stretches, Trump’s popularity dwarfed that of music’s icon.

Trump also dominated other popular political figures – Putin, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Barack Obama – leading each in search popularity for the entirety of 2016. Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton passed Trump only once: the week following Sept. 11, when much of the public questioned the state of her health after she left a memorial service looking noticeably ill.

If the goal of Time is to find the most influential person within a given year, then the magazine got it right. Trump had the U.S. spotlight for almost the entirety of 2016, leaving behind an impregnable mark on the nation’s political and social landscapes that is unlikely to fade away.

Lucas Misera is the opinion editor, contact him at [email protected].