How the GOP debate played out on Google

The Fox News/Google Republican debate played out not only on Fox News Channel, but also online as voters across the country searched, reacted and commented in real-time to what the candidates were saying.

The graphic below, produced by Google Trends, shows real-time search interest in each candidate. Businessman and front-runner Donald Trump was the leader in that regard, despite (or perhaps because of) his decision not to appear at the debate.

Trump consistently was the most searched candidate throughout the debate. Fighting for second place were Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with occasional appearances by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

In the early 7 p.m. debate, both former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum saw significant spikes in search interest.

As for what voters wanted to know, the questions were varied and often bizarre.

For former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, voters were interested in his net worth and how much time he has left in office.

Meanwhile for Santorum, many people searching for him seemed to think he has already left the race, with the top trending question being “Who did Rick Santorum endorse?”

The debate Thursday, with 12.5 million viewers, was the second-highest rated telecast in Fox News’ history.

Click here for more Google Trends.