The 2008 results (found here) show "palin" as the #7 overall fastest rising term in the US, "Sarah palin" as the #1 fastest rising term in Google News domestically, and also #1 fastest rising in Image Search. You would think that with all that searching, the GOP would have vetted her a bit more before the election, but that of course is a different story.
In fact, in a year when we had the 2008 Beijing olympics, the election of Barack Obama, a financial crisis, and a stock market meltdown, Mrs. Palin was the fastest rising in all the world. (See the global results)
Following Palin's selection as VP candidate just prior to the Republican convention, searches for her outweighted those for Obama, her running mate, McCain, and Joe Biden, the opposing VP candidate. In fact, it wasn't until October when the eventual presidential pick overtook her on the site. (See the politics page)
Outside of politics, Google shows also that Facebook outpulled MySpace, Hi5, Orkut and LinkedIn in terms of social networking interest, and that hybrid car interest peaked when gas was $4 a gallon, and fell by fall as prices dropped by half. (See: Trendsetters)
The full report is here.