Politicking can be bloodsport, and the midterm elections were bruising for combatants and voters alike. Money flowed freely as politicians argued over fiscal constraint, tea party crashers elbowed aside the Green Party and progressives, and truly pressing issues tussled for attention against catchy platforms like “the rent is too damn high.”
In the clamor, the politician who tried to remain above the fray did capture the most online interest. President Obama, the first politician to make the Top 10 Searches back in 2008, claimed the top spot as 2010’s most-searched politician. Coming in at No. 2 was someone who, strictly speaking, wasn’t holding any office — then again, many paid attention when Sarah Palin held court. Rocketing into third place: Christine O’Donnell, who turned the first state in the nation into a bit of a political sideshow.
A rundown on the Top 10:
Most-Searched Politicians of 2010 on Yahoo!
1. Barack Obama. No. 44 passed a lot of bills early in the year, received political body blows from both sides, and saw the Democrats lose the House. His approval ratings still hold — appearances on “The View” and “MythBusters” don’t hurt.
2. Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor’s endorsements had mixed results, as did the ratings for her reality show. Still, her words always have sway — a made-up one even became a word of the year. The former Alaska governor made a record, of sorts, by being on Barbara Walter’s Most Fascinating People list for three years running.
3. Christine O’Donnell. Delaware’s tea party candidate for U.S. Senate contributed more than her fair share of oddball political stories in this year’s elections, not the least of which was her anti-self-pleasuring stance. She accused her primary opponent of not having his “man-pants on,” dodged questions about her educational claims and personal finances, released an ad declaiming any witchy tendencies, and had problem remembering her amendments. She ultimately lost to Chris Coons, but all those dramas shot her into the No. 3 Search slot.
4. Hillary Clinton. The Secretary of State was about the only Obama administrator to win praise from General Stanley McChrystal’s camp. After a stint as mother of the bride in the most-searched wedding of the year, she dived right back into Israel-Palestine peace negotiations. WikiLeaks have consumed her days of late.
5. Nikki Haley. The first Indian American and female to win South Carolina’s gubernatorial seat, the conservative had to contend with claims of inappropriate relationships and racist name-calling.
6. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The lame-duck California governor leaves behind a $6 billion deficit, passage of AB32 Global Warming Solutions Act, and enough voter irritation to pass Proposition 25, which requires a simple majority to pass the budget. He did find time to moonlight in a brief cameo for “The Expendables.”
7. Meg Whitman. The former eBay CEO attracted national attention for infusing cash into her Republican bid for California governor. Her October surprise turned out to be a former maid backed by lawyer Gloria Allred, and Whitman’s insistence on negative ads earned boos at a women’s conference.
8. Nancy Pelosi. Madam Secretary wielded the whip all year long, but she lost her position as Speaker of the House after the midterm elections. The turnover, though, eliminated some of her party opposition, and she got the votes to come in as Minority Whip for 2011.
9. Linda McMahon. The first lady of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) left her CEO post behind to run for Connecticut’s U.S. Senate seat. Like Whitman, her personal contributions ($41.5 million) and media elusiveness got attention. Questions also swirled about the short, troubled life spans of WWE wrestlers, and the contractual “death clauses” that employees sign.
10. Scott Brown. The conservative won the U.S. Senate seat long occupied by Ted Kennedy, leading some to declare the victory a sign of tea party muscle, although political observers blamed a blundering opponent. The former Cosmopolitan centerfold, however, proved he was representing Massachusetts in his vote for the jobs bill.
–Senior Editor Vera H-C Chan is the editorial lead for Yahoo! Year in Review, and she is beat after 2010. Her writings can be found throughout Yahoo!, including her Shine blog Fast Talking Dame. Follow the Dame on Twitter.