It appears that Google's mysterious search algorithm has been making a suggestion that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney may not appreciate.
When a Google user types the phrase "Romney can win" into the search engine, its spell check function responds with the message, "Did you mean: Romney can't win?" Slate first stumbled upon the curious result and notes that no other GOP candidate is the victim of this Google glitch.
What exactly is behind the spell check suggestion will remain a mystery -- more than 200 variables go into the Google search algorithm, which ranks search results and produces spell check suggestions. Google, for its part, insist it's nothing personal against Romney -- just a flaw in the system.
"Our spellcheck feature is automated, and while no algorithm is perfect, we're always working to improve our search quality," a Google spokesperson told Hotsheet. "Last year, we launched roughly 500 improvements to our search algorithm."
The search results show a number of articles speculating on Romney's chances in the presidential contest. Some top results include the MSNBC blog post "Why Romney can't win in 2012" and a Fox News article entitled, "Christie: Romney 'Can Win This Election. We Cannot Have Another Four Years of Barack Obama'."
While the exact variables that led to this result are unknown, one lesson the results underline is that an ideal online media presence can't be purchased.
Romney spent nearly $900,000 -- more than any other GOP candidate -- on online ad and digital media from April through September of this year, the interactive marketing news site ClickZ reports. Rep. Michele Bachmann spent the next-largest sum at close to $400,000.
Investing in Google ads wouldn't impact Google's search results -- its ads appear separately, either on the side or above search results.
Still, there are ways to generate online buzz that may or may not influence Google's search results. For instance, ClickZ points out that Herman Cain has produced multiple, quirky web videos. While multiple videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, Cain hit the jackpot with a recent featuring his campaign manager Mark Block, which has won him significant mainstream media attention. Cain reported to the Federal Elections Commission paying the firm Little Bonanza Productions $175,000 for web video production in recent months.
While Romney has managed to maintain the support of around 20 percent of Republican voters, he has been unable to establish himself as the clear frontrunner. The latestshows Cain leading Romney nationally, 25 percent to 21 percent respectively.