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Do Political Positions Hurt a Corporation's Bottom Line?

It's a tradition at this point: At least once a year, Google incurs the ire of (primarily) American conservatives because of a doodle (or sometimes even the absence of a doodle!) on its homepage. In 2006, the multibillion-dollar, multinational corporation chose not to mark Memorial Day, which The National Review pronounced "kind of sad." In 2007, the magazine asked, "What, no Easter? I wasn't expecting a risen Christ, but at least an Easter bunny?" The next year, as documented by Slate, Google was criticized for celebrating the birthday of Diego Velazquez's birthday in lieu of D-Day. This year is no exception, as the traditional Google logo was on Easter Sunday augmented by an illustration of labor great Cesar Chavez.

Without fail, these eruptions against Google are paired with attempts to shift allegiance towards one search engine in particular: Bing. In certain quarters, Microsoft's answer to Google is seen as more friendly -- or at least not openly antagonistic -- towards conservatives, who this year lauded Bing for splashing Easter eggs across its homepage. Whether on purpose or otherwise, Bing's decision to cater to a single country's political party -- or even appear to -- may come at a cost. As social conservative writer Rod Dreher observed, "Think about it: if you’re Bing, do you really want to get the reputation as being the right wing’s preferred search engine?"

An intriguing, though I would suggest flawed, new study suggests the answer is No.