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VoteFair American Idol poll

American Idol voting, the VoteFair way

The poll here correctly identifies the most-popular and least-popular contestants.  How?  It uses all your preferences — and all the preferences of other voters — in VoteFair ranking calculations.  (For reasons explained, it does not predict who will win.)

(Also on this page: cross-season poll through season 12, season 12 poll (finally a superb singer), cross-season poll through season 11, season 11 poll (the close-race season), cross-season poll through season 10, season 10 poll (the Country-music season), cross-season poll through season 9, season 9 poll (with its crazy results), cross-season poll through season 8, season 8 poll (and why text messaging tipped the balance), cross-season poll through season 7, season 7 summary, cross-season poll through season 6, season 6 summary, season 5 summary, earlier cross-season polls, and Jennifer Hudson's early elimination)


The Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox

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Cross-season poll, seasons 1 through 13

VoteFair Ballot

Cross-season poll, seasons 1 through 13

Current Results

You can vote just once!
Non-U.S. votes and multiple votes from the same voter will be removed,
but you can tell other fans of your favorite to vote here.

 

Season 13   (2014)

Congratulations Caleb!  Rock on!

Links to each week's results are in the summary table column headings.

Are the finale results fair?

When Ryan Seacrest asked the live audience which singer they prefer, the difference in voices revealed that young females were a dominant part of the voices expressing support for Caleb Johnson.  Yet the crowd sounded louder expressing support for Jena Irene.  Yet Caleb won.  What's going on?

Update: A website visitor points out that he and other people thought that the crowd was louder in support of Caleb, and that young females are not necessarily the strongest supporters of Caleb.  Of course it's difficult to tell because Ryan's microphone was closest to the young females who are positioned closest to the stage.  The show does not share much information about how voting is going, so the best we can do is to try to decipher what clues are available, and of course that has lots of limitations.

As explained last week (below), there are two kinds of popularity.  Caleb won based on his fans voting with more dedication than the fans of Jena.  Specifically each of his fans probably voted many more times than each of her fans.  As previously explained, this is not unfair for the purpose of finding out which singer would sell the most concert tickets, which is what the show cares about.

As another factor, apparently the fans of Alex Preston shifted their support to Caleb rather than Jena.  This makes sense because young females tend to prefer male singers.  This shouldn't be surprising to anyone who pays attention to song lyrics and realizes that the topic of love is dominant in the songs of most successful male singers (until a singer gains so much popularity that they can shift to other topics).

There is a good chance that the number of people who signed up for Google Plus has significantly increased recently.  If so, this evidence would suggest that fans of Alex and Caleb have signed up for Google Plus accounts in order to cast more votes.  Is this unfair?  No, fans of Jena had the same option.

It's possible that fans of Alex and Caleb opened extra Facebook accounts and perhaps multiple Google Plus accounts in order to cast extra votes.  If so, some people would claim that this strategy is unfair.  But remember that American Idol voting does not try to follow the “one person one vote” convention used in governmental elections.

The show does set limits on the number of votes per method and per (Facebook or Google Plus) account, but those limits are intended to stop fans from automating the voting process.  If young females have the time and willingness to spend lots of time voting on their cellphone, then that reveals a likelihood that they will spend money buying a concert ticket for their favorite singer.  And that is what the show cares about.

In contrast, the VoteFair American Idol poll attempts to measure popularity of the type where each participant gets to cast only one ballot.  This difference is why the poll results here alone cannot predict who will win.

In earlier commentary here I predicted that Caleb could not win.  Ooops.  Although the commentary did say that the use of Google Plus accounts for voting and the abandonment of AT&T-only text voting was likely to affect voting in unexpected ways, I failed to anticipate the apparent level of dedication of young female voters voting for a male singer using the new voting options, and outvoting what was presumably a significantly larger number of voters voting for a more popular singer.  In spite of Caleb's win, I suspect that Jena will become more of a star than Caleb, provided she continues on her path as an entertainer.

As always, time will reveal whether Caleb or Jena will sell more concert tickets and sell more downloaded songs.  And as always, both of them will have as much success as they want.

Failure to clarify that banning single-mark ballots will make large campaign contributions pointless

Sigh.  In this week's voting-related survey question, the main cause for why U.S. election results are so easily influenced by money was ranked as the least-likely cause of governmental corruption.  Based on these results I'll try to make the following point more clearly:

If single-mark ballots were banned from governmental elections, the excessive influence of money in politics would be reduced so dramatically that we, the majority of voters, would be able to elect problem-solving leaders, instead of getting stuck with special-interest puppets.

Expressed another way, using better ballots and better vote-counting methods would be more effective than if, somehow, campaign contributions were slashed to only 20 percent of what they are now.

Here are the specific results for this survey question, which asks “Which U.S. election reform is most (second-most, etc.) important?”

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Impose transparency on campaign funding from corporations  Ranking score is 17 for Impose transparency on campaign funding from corporations 39 voters marked Impose transparency on campaign funding from corporations as their first choice
Second-most popular Remove barriers that block third parties  Ranking score is 13 for Remove barriers that block third parties 24 voters marked Remove barriers that block third parties as their first choice
Third-most popular Improve fairness of choosing election-district boundaries  Ranking score is 8 for Improve fairness of choosing election-district boundaries 30 voters marked Improve fairness of choosing election-district boundaries as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Ban single-mark ballots from general elections  Ranking score is 3 for Ban single-mark ballots from general elections 6 voters marked Ban single-mark ballots from general elections as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Ban single-mark ballots from primary elections  Ranking score is 0 for Ban single-mark ballots from primary elections 32 voters marked Ban single-mark ballots from primary elections as their first choice

By the way, only 28 percent (less than a third) of the poll participants ranked these possible causes.  To those of you who answered this question, thank you!  You have revealed the need for election-method reform advocates to teach voters that:

If better ballots and better counting methods were used, then wealthy people and big corporations could spend all the money they want without being able to affect election results.

As another clarification, yes, removing barriers to third political parties would be very helpful.  However, if a third political party gained power, it too would be overtaken by major campaign contributors — unless that political party adopted for use in their primary elections a type of ballot that is better than single-mark ballots.

As for the issue of better choosing election-district boundaries, that issue only affects the power struggle between the big-money-backed Republican party and the big-money-backed Democratic party.  It does not affect the power struggle between the voters and the biggest campaign contributors.  Expressed as a specific example, a big part of the U.S. sugar (growing and refining) industry is controlled by two brothers, and one brother gives money to Republican candidates and the other brother gives money to Democratic candidates.

To repeat, both political parties are under the control of the biggest campaign contributors.  Most Republican-versus-Democratic issues (aside from labor-union issues) are not of concern to those biggest campaign contributors.

Here is a map of what U.S. politics really looks like.

Why did this American Idol season have so many weak singers?

Here are the results of your ranking of when the biggest loss of singing talent occurs:

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular During the voting (vote splitting, unfair voting rules, "power" voting, etc.)  Ranking score is 31 for During the voting (vote splitting, unfair voting rules, 94 voters marked During the voting (vote splitting, unfair voting rules,
Second-most popular During the auditions in front of the judges (because of unwise judging decisions, choice of judges, etc.)  Ranking score is 19 for During the auditions in front of the judges (because of unwise judging decisions, choice of judges, etc.) 53 voters marked During the auditions in front of the judges (because of unwise judging decisions, choice of judges, etc.) as their first choice
Third-most popular During the stadium auditions (which are not televised), before seeing the judges  Ranking score is 10 for During the stadium auditions (which are not televised), before seeing the judges 45 voters marked During the stadium auditions (which are not televised), before seeing the judges as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Before it all starts (competition with other televised talent competitions, oppressive recording contract, etc.)  Ranking score is 0 for Before it all starts (competition with other televised talent competitions, oppressive recording contract, etc.) 65 voters marked Before it all starts (competition with other televised talent competitions, oppressive recording contract, etc.) as their first choice

Clarification: This ranking is based on the 55 percent of the 469 people who voted in this poll; the other 45 percent “did not answer this question.”

These results suggest that the most visible parts of the show are where viewers think the best singers get eliminated early.

Note that the second-ranked choice about the judges combines two separate issues, namely how well the judges did in making their choices, and how well the producers did in choosing the judges.

The additional fact that runner-up Jena Irene was a “wildcard choice” can be interpreted to mean that it is very difficult to judge, and very difficult to predict who will blossom and who won't, and very difficult to guess which singers the viewers will appreciate most.

Judging the judges

Here are the results from this week's survey about the speaking non-contestants:

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Harry Connick, Jr.  Ranking score is 52 for Harry Connick, Jr. 133 voters marked Harry Connick, Jr. as their first choice
Second-most popular Keith Urban  Ranking score is 42 for Keith Urban 73 voters marked Keith Urban as their first choice
Third-most popular Ryan Seacrest  Ranking score is 30 for Ryan Seacrest 107 voters marked Ryan Seacrest as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Jennifer Lopez  Ranking score is 15 for Jennifer Lopez 56 voters marked Jennifer Lopez as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Randy Jackson  Ranking score is 0 for Randy Jackson 9 voters marked Randy Jackson as their first choice

Harry Connick, Jr. is still the most popular, and Keith Urban remains second-most popular.  In contrast, Jennifer Lopez is less popular than Ryan Seacrest.  (Will Jennifer be back next year, considering that currently she gets paid way more than the other judges?)

Alex rather than Caleb eliminated

The VoteFair poll showed Alex Preston to be second-most popular, and Caleb Johnson to be third-most popular, (and Jena Irene to be most popular), so why did Alex get fewer official votes?  In this case it's not because of vote splitting.  Rather it's because there are two different kinds of “popularity”.

Imagine what would happen if the 439 people who cast votes in this week's VoteFair poll were allowed to vote up to 50 times each, with each vote requiring ten clicks.  It's likely that Caleb fans would be more inspired to vote more times, whereas Alex fans would be less inspired.  Why?  Because Caleb is more entertaining.

Expressed another way, probably more of us would be inspired to go to a Caleb concert than an Alex concert.  (Here I must admit that rock music is my favorite genre, so maybe I'm biased.)  Very importantly this is the kind of popularity that the show's producers care about.  After all, their real goal is to find out which singer will sell the most concert tickets.

That difference can be expressed as two different kinds of popularity.  One kind of popularity is expressed by clicking a mouse, and the other kind of popularity is expressed by getting out of a chair and (say) walking half a mile.

This difference is well-known among TV producers.  They don't really care how much we like a TV show, they really just care whether we like a TV show enough to turn it on and watch the commercials.  Expressed another way, there have been TV shows that were canceled because not enough people watched the show, and then later the devoted fans of that show demonstrated that they were willing to pay money to watch new episodes of the show.  And this gives us a hint of where TV viewing has been heading, namely to a point where people demonstrate how much they like a show through their willingness to pay to watch it.  (Part of the reason “pay TV” services have not worked out is that the prices have been too high, and there are so many free entertainment alternatives.)

Of course, as has been stated here at least once each season, the people who vote in the VoteFair poll do not necessarily match the demographics of the people who officially vote.  Does this account for the “surprise” result?  No.

The bigger issue is that the VoteFair poll does not allow multiple votes while, in contrast, the official voting allows one person to submit hundreds of votes (by signing up for multiple Facebook and Google Plus accounts and also using text-message voting).

Which kind of popularity is more important?  It depends on what you want to find out.  It depends on your goals.

Fortunately we agree that in governmental elections each voter deserves only one vote, so the “voice” kind of popularity is more important in governmental elections.  Now we just need to start using ballots that can't be exploited easily through money-controlled vote splitting!

Music genre results

Below is a summary of the results for the question “What is your favorite, second-favorite, etc. music genre?”

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Rock  Ranking score is 50 for Rock 104 voters marked Rock as their first choice
Second-most popular Pop  Ranking score is 45 for Pop 82 voters marked Pop as their first choice
Third-most popular Country  Ranking score is 34 for Country 47 voters marked Country as their first choice
Fourth-most popular R&B  Ranking score is 27 for R&B 6 voters marked R&B as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Blues  Ranking score is 22 for Blues 12 voters marked Blues as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Folk (including bluegrass, zydeco, contemporary folk)  Ranking score is 16 for Folk (including bluegrass, zydeco, contemporary folk) 17 voters marked Folk (including bluegrass, zydeco, contemporary folk) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Jazz  Ranking score is 10 for Jazz 13 voters marked Jazz as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Caribbean, Latin American, African, Ska  Ranking score is 4 for Caribbean, Latin American, African, Ska 0 voter marked Caribbean, Latin American, African, Ska as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Hip Hop  Ranking score is 0 for Hip Hop 5 voters marked Hip Hop as their first choice

For comparison, here are last year's results:

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Pop  Ranking score is 45 for Pop 90 voters marked Pop as their first choice
Second-most popular Country  Ranking score is 39 for Country 130 voters marked Country as their first choice
Third-most popular Rock  Ranking score is 34 for Rock 86 voters marked Rock as their first choice
Fourth-most popular R&B  Ranking score is 31 for R&B 49 voters marked R&B as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Blues  Ranking score is 25 for Blues 43 voters marked Blues as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Jazz  Ranking score is 17 for Jazz 15 voters marked Jazz as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Modern folk  Ranking score is 12 for Modern folk 8 voters marked Modern folk as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Hip Hop  Ranking score is 7 for Hip Hop 10 voters marked Hip Hop as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Caribbean, Latin American, African, Ska  Ranking score is 3 for Caribbean, Latin American, African, Ska 3 voters marked Caribbean, Latin American, African, Ska as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Electronic  Ranking score is 0 for Electronic 5 voters marked Electronic as their first choice

As you can see, there are lots of rock-music fans this season.  Last year there were lots of Country-music fans.  This makes sense because a rock singer (Caleb Johnson) is in the top three this year, and a somewhat Country-music singer (Kree Harrison) was in the top two last year.

Even though pop music is not always a first-choice favorite, pop music is the second-most or third-most favorite of most people who vote here.  If it weren't, it wouldn't be ranked at or near the top.  Of course people who dislike pop music don't watch American Idol.

BTW, if you noticed the “zydeco” music genre and don't know what it sounds like, and you want to find out, here's a link to a video of a band playing zydeco music, with me dancing in the foreground (with someone I had never danced with before): Video of band playing Zydeco music (and me dancing)

Top 4 results

Least-popular (according to this poll) Jessica Meuse finally stopped getting lucky and went home.  This elimination also reveals that Country-music fans were not that supportive of her, which makes sense for reasons already mentioned.

Vote splitting between the two males will not be a big issue next week because it favors Jena Irene who is more popular than either of the two males.  (If instead she were the least-popular singer, then she would benefit from that vote splitting.)

The fact that Alex Preston ended up in the bottom two is not too surprising because his superb musicality is not as big an advantage as Caleb Johnson's charisma (which is a characteristic that Alex lacks).

Which singer will get the votes of the fans who preferred Jessica Meuse?  In a few days the early VoteFair results should give us a clue.

Vote-shifting performances last night

Below are the Thursday-afternoon VoteFair poll results (after removing some minor ballot-stuffing attempts from a few people).

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Jena Irene  Ranking score is 58 for Jena Irene 94 voters marked Jena Irene as their first choice
Second-most popular Alex Preston  Ranking score is 34 for Alex Preston 65 voters marked Alex Preston as their first choice
Third-most popular Caleb Johnson  Ranking score is 18 for Caleb Johnson 57 voters marked Caleb Johnson as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Jessica Meuse  Ranking score is 0 for Jessica Meuse 60 voters marked Jessica Meuse as their first choice

The “traditional vote-count” column indicates that, as previously stated, Jena Irene is the only one who is safe (provided her fans did not shift some of their votes to another singer based on assuming that she had plenty of votes).  In other words, any of the other three singers could be eliminated.

Keep in mind that Jessica Meuse appeals to Country-music fans and they do not vote here, but they do vote officially, so she is not as vulnerable as it might seem based on her ranking as least-popular.

From another perspective, this week's result will reveal the balance between rock-music fans voting for Caleb Johnson, versus Country-music fans voting for Jessica Meuse, and versus young girls — who stereotypically prefer a guitar-playing white male — voting for Alex Preston.  (As a related point, this coming week the VoteFair poll will include a question that asks you to rank musical genres.)

(As a clarification, this particular commentary does not take into account all of what happened last night because I was running the sound system for a local singing group and did not watch the show.  I did read about what happened, and I watched four performance videos, one of each singer.)

Caleb likely to go home this week

Apparently Caleb Johnson made some public comments about disliking getting song suggestions from fans.  Accordingly this VoteFair poll shows a big decline in his popularity, and a big decline in first-choice votes.  This factor adds to his weakness of being a rock singer in front of an audience that prefers pop singers.  So he is likely to be eliminated this week.

(Update: This commentary was written after Caleb implied on Facebook that he does not appreciate getting any song suggestions.  Apparently he later revised that Facebook message to say that he appreciates getting some song suggestions.)

This means that Jena Irene and Alex Preston will be in the finale (if they don't egotistically say or do anything to upset their fans).  Although Alex may get votes from former fans of Caleb, the VoteFair “pairwise-counting” results show that Jena Irene is more popular.  Yet Alex Preston could win if his fans cast votes through all the possible digital voting methods (Facebook, Google Plus, and text messaging) and Jena's fans don't do the same, or if his fans use multiple Facebook accounts and multiple Google Plus accounts to “amplify” their influence.

In spite of his lack of diplomacy, Caleb Johnson deserves some credit for being honest about not caring about song suggestions.  If politicians were similarly honest they would tell us “Don't bother telling me what you, the voters, want, because I'll be doing what my biggest campaign contributors want.”  Of course in both cases the diplomatic — and professionally more astute — choice is to listen to what people have to say, and then choose actions without saying there is no connection between the two; it allows voters to believe that the celebrity is listening.

From cluelessness to less greedy

Now that her favorite contestant (Sam) has been eliminated, the “Washington DC ballot stuffer” has stopped trying to stuff ballots.  In the final two weeks she tried to cast 62 ballots one week and 47 ballots the next week.  Apparently she was learning to be less greedy.  Let's hope some of that reduced greediness rubs off on a few other people in Washington DC.

Top 5 results, and how elections are swung

If the three-way split among the three males were, instead, a political election, the least popular candidate — corresponding to Sam Woolf in the American Idol case — could have come out near the top, instead of at the bottom, through extra spending on TV ads and video promotions.

In other words, the use of only first-choice votes lowers the threshold for winning — because the votes are split among several (such as five) candidates — and that means the winner of a close five-way race only has to get about 25 percent (one-fourth, which is slightly more than one-fifth) of the votes.  If instant-runoff voting were used, the least-popular of the similar choices only has to get a few more votes than the next-least-popular candidate in order to move on to the next round of voting.  So once again the important point is this: the person with the fewest first-choice votes is not necessarily the least popular choice.

Now that the three-way split among the males is resolved, Jessica Meuse is likely to be eliminated next week.

What would have happened if the contestants had chosen the option to postpone the elimination this week and do two eliminations next week?  Oh what an unpredictable mess that would have been!  (Presumably Sam Woolf and Jessica Meuse would have voted in favor of the option because they knew they were likely to get eliminated either this week or next week, and that option would have given them an extra week.  In contrast, Caleb Johnson and Alex Preston are smart enough to have realized that a safe-for-no-one-except-Jena-outcome was not in their best interests.)

Possible surprise elimination of Alex Preston or Caleb Johnson

As of mid-day Wednesday (a few hours before the top 5 perform), the VoteFair ranking results compared to the first-choice-only counts (shown below) reveal that Alex Preston is vulnerable for elimination this week.  Keep in mind that Caleb Johnson also continues to be vulnerable, as previously explained below.

Vote splitting among the three guys is the cause of this possible unfair outcome.  Expressed another way, if Sam Woolf were not still in the competition, the fans voting for him would likely shift their votes to Alex Preston or Caleb Johnson, and that would increase the likelihood that Jessica Meuse would be eliminated this week (although this scenario does not take into account that one of the previously eliminated contestants would still be in the competition).

As stated here many times, the person with the fewest first-choice votes is not necessarily the least popular.  If you don't fully understand why, please read the Democracy has struck an iceberg section below.

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Jena Irene  Ranking score is 66 for Jena Irene 44 voters marked Jena Irene as their first choice
Second-most popular Caleb Johnson  Ranking score is 49 for Caleb Johnson 18 voters marked Caleb Johnson as their first choice
Third-most popular Alex Preston  Ranking score is 32 for Alex Preston 14 voters marked Alex Preston as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Jessica Meuse  Ranking score is 14 for Jessica Meuse 19 voters marked Jessica Meuse as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Sam Woolf  Ranking score is 0 for Sam Woolf 12 voters marked Sam Woolf as their first choice

 

Top 5 commentary

For reasons already explained below, Jena Irene is the only singer who is safe from elimination (as long as lots of her fans don't also try to give some of their votes to another singer).  Next week all the other singers will be vulnerable.  This means that if there is anyone who has a chance of winning the finale against Jena Irene, then this will be their most vulnerable week.  Expressed another way, vote splitting among the three males makes all three of them vulnerable in this week's performances.

The Bing website (run by Microsoft) has started a prediction project, and they predict that Caleb Johnson will win.  No doubt their prediction software is failing to consider that American Idol fans tend to prefer pop music more than rock music.  Of course all they really want is to increase visibility for their search engine.  For those of you who don't know, there is yet another search engine at DuckDuckGo.com and it does not track your searches.

Democracy has struck an iceberg

So far this week, after removing stuffed ballots, the first-choice votes below — on the surface — give the impression that Jena Irene is the likely winner.  That's what lots of people (who don't follow this commentary) would think, and they would be making the same mistake as the captain of the Titanic.  We have to look beneath the surface.

Choice Vote count Percentage
Jena Irene 40 44 40 voters marked Jena Irene as their first choice
Alex Preston 17 19 17 voters marked Alex Preston as their first choice
Sam Woolf 12 13 12 voters marked Sam Woolf as their first choice
Caleb Johnson 11 12 11 voters marked Caleb Johnson as their first choice
Jessica Meuse 9 10 9 voters marked Jessica Meuse as their first choice
CJ Harris 1 1 0 voter marked CJ Harris as their first choice

In the case of icebergs, sonar is needed to discover when an iceberg extends — under the surface — much closer to a ship compared to the distance determined by just looking at the “far-away” iceberg.  In the case of voting, pairwise counting is needed to discover whether Jena Irene is really more popular than any of the other contestants.

Here are the pairwise counts that involve Jena Irene:

Pairs of choice names Number of votes with indicated preference
Prefer X over Y Equal preference Prefer Y over X
X = Jena Irene
Y = Caleb Johnson
65
65 voters prefer Jena Irene over Caleb Johnson
0
0 voters have an equal preference for Jena Irene over Caleb Johnson
28
28 voters prefer Caleb Johnson over Jena Irene
X = Jena Irene
Y = Alex Preston
63
63 voters prefer Jena Irene over Alex Preston
0
0 voters have an equal preference for Jena Irene over Alex Preston
30
30 voters prefer Alex Preston over Jena Irene
X = Jena Irene
Y = Jessica Meuse
61
61 voters prefer Jena Irene over Jessica Meuse
3
3 voters have an equal preference for Jena Irene and Jessica Meuse
29
29 voters prefer Jessica Meuse over Jena Irene
X = Jena Irene
Y = Sam Woolf
69
69 voters prefer Jena Irene over Sam Woolf
1
1 voter has an equal preference for Jena Irene over Sam Woolf
23
23 voters prefer Sam Woolf over Jena Irene
X = Jena Irene
Y = CJ Harris
73
73 voters prefer Jena Irene over CJ Harris
0
0 voters have an equal preference for Jena Irene over CJ Harris
20
20 voters prefer CJ Harris over Jena Irene

These pairwise comparisons reveal that Jena Irene would, indeed (if this early poll result matched the official voting and each voter could vote only once) win the finale, regardless of who the other singer was.

Without this pairwise comparison, the first-choice count of Jena Irene getting 44 percent of those votes suggests that she might not be the most popular.  Why?   Because the 19 percent of voters who prefer Alex Preston (as their first choice), plus the 13 percent of voters who prefer Sam Woolf, plus the 12 percent of voters who prefer Caleb Johnson, combine into a total of 44 percent — the same as Jena Irene — who oppose her winning.

Doing pairwise counting reveals who really is the most popular choice.  Unfortunately, nobody wants to “do the math.”  Fortunately computers can do the pairwise counting, and a few of us are willing to teach computers how to do pairwise counting.

Few people realize that first-choice-only voting in U.S. primary elections (using “single-mark ballots”) is why U.S. voters get split among reform-minded candidates, while the biggest campaign contributors concentrate votes on a single special-interest puppet.  The consequence is that money, not votes, control U.S. election results.

As explained below in the Cluelessness in Washington DC commentary, control by the biggest campaign contributors is resulting in the U.S. government and the U.S. Treasury (including the Social Security fund, Fort Knox, etc.) having been cleaned out by the businesses that contribute the most money to Congressional election campaigns, and the consequence of this leakage is the sinking of the U.S. economy.

Fortunately, solutions to these and other problems we face do exist.  As the author of a worldwide-published how-to book on creative problem solving (which is now available as a Kindle ebook), I am qualified to make this claim.  (Other commentary sections in past seasons explain some of those key solutions.)  There is hope — if lots of people wake up soon!

 

Possible surprise elimination of Caleb Johnson

On Sunday, after removing 16 ballots from the “Washington DC ballot stuffer,” the results below show that Caleb Johnson is losing support as a first choice, even though he remains rather popular.  This suggests he has a chance of getting eliminated this week.  That's not a prediction of an outcome, but rather a prediction of his vulnerability.  This reduced popularity fits with the fact that, according to last-year's VoteFair question about music styles, pop music is more popular than rock music (among the people who vote here).  This shift in voting interest does not mean that his odds of winning have decreased.  As explained weeks ago, his only chance of winning was based on demonstrating an interest in singing pop songs, or at least a genuine interest in singing at lower volumes (where the vocal chords produce richer sounds), rather than simply as a prelude to the louder portions, and he has not demonstrated that inclination.

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Jena Irene  Ranking score is 72 for Jena Irene 28 voters marked Jena Irene as their first choice
Second-most popular Caleb Johnson  Ranking score is 54 for Caleb Johnson 5 voters marked Caleb Johnson as their first choice
Third-most popular Alex Preston  Ranking score is 41 for Alex Preston 13 voters marked Alex Preston as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Jessica Meuse  Ranking score is 25 for Jessica Meuse 5 voters marked Jessica Meuse as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Sam Woolf  Ranking score is 13 for Sam Woolf 11 voters marked Sam Woolf as their first choice
Sixth-most popular CJ Harris  Ranking score is 0 for CJ Harris 0 voter marked CJ Harris as their first choice

This early (non-final) result is based on only 64 votes, yet the nature of VoteFair ranking, and the weekly voting patterns here, usually produce an overall pattern that quickly converges on what it will look like when everyone has voted.  (When it does change significantly, that occurs after the performances demonstrate unexpected strengths and weaknesses.)  With this week's theme covering rock songs and Country-music songs, Caleb Johnson is likely to outshine with his rock song, and that is likely to protect him for an extra week, yet he could end up in the bottom two.

Why hasn't CJ Harris been eliminated in spite of being at the bottom of this VoteFair poll each week?  Clearly his fans don't vote in this VoteFair poll even though they do vote officially, and the official votes are what count.  Until last week, the same thing was happening with support for Dexter Roberts.

Top 7 results

This week's elimination of Dexter Roberts reveals that Country-music fans are either not terribly impressed by his singing, or they have lost the voting advantages they had back when AT&T sent a text message to AT&T cellphones telling them when the American Idol voting had started and telling them the contestant numbers, and back when Country-music radio stations announcing relevant contestant numbers provided a big networking advantage.  Now, voting by text message can be done from any cellphone carrier, the timing is not as limited, and the contestant numbers remain the same (from week to week).  Also, the addition of voting through Google Plus is more likely to benefit pop singers than Country-music singers.

Jessica Meuse ending up in the bottom two in spite of having a gender advantage — only two females and five males — is not surprising after she sang off-pitch (according to the judges) and after she claimed (even if just “joking”) that she might have been adbucted by aliens.  The latter claim would alienate both people who believe in science and people who believe in religion, which is lots and lots of people.  Also she says she wants to be perceived as a “badass,” yet she failed to channel that kind of personality into her performance.

This week the “Washington DC ballot stuffer” stuffed fewer ballots — 30 ballots — so she is slowly learning to get less greedy.  Only when she stops casting more than one ballot will her efforts have any influence on the results.  As a new development, a ballot stuffer in Boston stuffed at least 16 ballots this week, and a fewer number last week.  As usual, the final results are posted in a link on the elimination table; for your convenience here is an additional link to this week's results.

Cluelessness in Washington DC

The ballot-stuffing attempts from the person (woman?) in Washington DC continue.  She has realized that she was getting too greedy.  Specifically she has learned that when she casts so many ballots that her favorite (Sam Woolf) gets to the top of the ranking, the ballot stuffing is obvious, and her ballots are soon removed.  Next she tried casting enough ballots to get her favorite to the top of the first-choice ranking.  That too is easy to see.  Her latest attempt was to cast 15 ballots earlier in the week, apparently hoping that the less-greedy change in results would not be apparent.

This is so funny because it matches what goes on in Washington DC politics.  Members of Congress (from both political parties) have passed laws that favor the businesses that are owned by the people who contribute the most money to congressional election campaigns.  They — the politicians and the people who bankroll them — think that those favors are not being noticed by the voters.  Hah!

Members of Congress seem to believe their corruption is not being noticed.  In particular, they seem to believe their own faulty statistics about employment and inflation.  The official unemployment rate is about 9%, but that only counts people who are currently getting unemployment benefits.  Anyone who has friends and relatives anywhere outside of Washington DC and New York and similar areas knows that unemployment is actually around 20%, which is what it was during the great depression.  The official inflation rate is around 3%.  But that number is partly based on the faulty consumer price index (CPI), which has been “adjusted” to exclude food items that are rising in price and include new (indexed) technology prices that are declining — such as the per-pixel price of digital cameras, even though consumers don't buy low-pixel-count cameras.  (The official inflation rate is also based on how much of a discount the U.S. Treasury has to give to buyers when treasury bonds/bills/notes are auctioned off, but currently the biggest buyer at those auctions is the Federal Reserve ....)  Anyone who buys their own groceries knows that the real rate of inflation is more like 10% per year.  In short, members of Congress think that the effects of their favors (to the biggest campaign contributors) are going unnoticed.  Hah!

Anyone who spends any time learning about history knows that governments are as greedy as they think they can get away with.  Fortunately the technologies of the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television, and now Internet communications have successively increased the flow of information about what goes on in government — and about what goes on in warfare, which is always between governments.  As a result, citizens have become less willing to tolerate the excessive levels of greed, blatant corruption, and foolish wars that used to be commonplace in Europe.  Nowadays the biggest kinds of corruption in the United States involve documents and legal proceedings.  These kinds of corruption are not as bad, and not as noticable, as what Russia and China and North Korea still do to the people who publicly call attention to corruption in their governments.

Yet the funniest part is that the people who bankroll both political parties in Congress have shot themselves in the foot by causing the economic downturn we are now suffering from.  They are losing lots of money as a result of this “recession,” and they are clueless that they are the ones who created it.

And they don't realize they are the people who are sustaining it.  How? Each big business has pushed through subsidies and tax reductions and non-free-market advantages that give them a bigger piece of “pie” — which is the take-home pay of the average employee — and the result is that there is no remaining “pie” with which consumers can buy the products that those businesses produce.  Instead voters/consumers have to save their money to buy food, the cost of which is increasing dramatically.  Marie Antoinette saying “let them eat cake” is an historic example of this kind of cluelessness.

Those biggest campaign contributors also fail to realize that the shareholders who co-own (through mutual funds, IRA stock investments, etc.) their corporations are the same people who oppose them in political elections.  And frequently the people being fleeced are the employees of those politically active businesses.  In other words, civilization has progressed beyond less-civilized times when one group of people lived (and hid) in a castle and the other group of people grew food and maintained the castle walls.  Now we are intimately interconnected (whether we like it or not).

The recent ballot-stuffing attempts by a Washington DC resident serve as a reminder that the people in Washington DC are clueless.  They fail to understand that their own unethical behaviors are causing harm to themselves — because we are all connected in ways that did not exist before communication technologies linked us together.  In the case of the ballot-stuffer, she is calling attention to the fact that Sam Woolf is not a popular candidate, which is the opposite of helping to promote him.

Fortunately the same technology that makes it hard for governments to hide unethical behavior also makes it easy to conduct elections using 1-2-3 ballots and pairwise counting.  This simple change will transfer the puppet strings of Congress from the biggest campaign contributors to the majority of voters.  Then we, the majority of voters, can elect problem-solving leaders, instead of getting stuck with special-interest puppets.

Problem-solving leaders will be willing and able to dramatically strengthen the U.S. economy.  How?  By implementing reforms such as:

  • Taxing The Takers More Than The Makers, which would also help to stop the “brain drain” of the best university graduates working for businesses that just shuffle documents (or the digital equivalent), instead of working for the kinds of businesses that bring money into the United States from foreign nations — which has always been the basis for sustained economic prosperity.
  • Truly reforming the patent system — which would not be as important to economic strength if large corporations knew how to employ inventors, which they don't, partly because managers do not know how to recognize the difference between a rebel and an innovator.  Speaking of this topic, is Jessica Meuse a rebel, or is she “creative” and (if people like her choices) “innovative”?  Rebels are so anxious to stop something they don't like that they fail to give enough attention to whether they are headed toward something worse.  Rebels attract fewer fans compared to innovators and creative thinkers.
  • Reforming the educational system to teach creative-problem-solving skills.  As the author of a well-known book on this topic I'll take this opportunity to say that in a few days the ebook version of this book will become available on the Kindle!
  • Ending the blatant corruption on Wall Street, such as stopping insiders from being able to “cut in line” ahead of average investors — with full knowledge of what trades the average investors are waiting to execute.

Looking much farther into the future, the fight between the Republican party and the Democratic party will continue to fade in importance, just as the fight between Protestants and Catholics has faded in importance.  New fights will gain importance.  Soon, there will be international governmental fights over gold.  Yet even those fights also are not important.  So what is important?  Trust.

The actions of Congress have undermined trust in the U.S. dollar, which will soon lead to even heavier inflation.

And the actions of Congress have undermined trust in the United States as a peacekeeper between excessively greedy governments that try to take over corruptly run smaller regions.  In particular, our lack of trustworthiness limits our ability to help protect the corrupt Ukrainian government against a power grab from corrupt Russia, to help protect corrupt Taiwan from being taken over by corrupt China, to help corrupt South Korea fight off aggression from corrupt North Korea, and (what is especially important to some of the biggest campaign contributors) to help protect corrupt Israel from being wiped out by its surrounding anti-Jewish neighbor nations.

Fortunately trust can be regained.  How?  We can ban the use of single-mark ballots in all governmental elections — especially U.S. primary elections.  In the meantime we can keep our sanity by laughing at the cluelessness going on in Washington DC.

Top 7 commentary

Based on the information below, it's difficult to predict who will be eliminated next week, except to say that although Jessica Meuse is somewhat vulnerable, she benefits from the vote splitting among the remaining 5 males.  The only singers who are relatively safe are Caleb Johnson, Alex Preston, and Jena Irene; they have remained out of the bottom three, except for Jena six weeks ago.

Top 8 results

This week's results, after removing 94 ballot-stuffing attempts from the “Washington DC ballot stuffer” and a few other invalid ballots, are shown below.  The traditional vote count reveals that Malaya Watson, Dexter Roberts, and CJ Harris are somewhat equally unpopular.  Dexter Roberts is supported by well-networked Country-music fans, and apparently CJ Harris is protected by dedicated voters, so Malaya Watson was eliminated.

The three most popular singers, according to the VoteFair poll (based on both VoteFair ranking and the traditional first-choice counts), are Caleb Johnson, Jena Irene, and Alex Preston.

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Caleb Johnson  Ranking score is 66 for Caleb Johnson 45 voters marked Caleb Johnson as their first choice
Second-most popular Jena Irene  Ranking score is 57 for Jena Irene 53 voters marked Jena Irene as their first choice
Third-most popular Alex Preston  Ranking score is 50 for Alex Preston 46 voters marked Alex Preston as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Jessica Meuse  Ranking score is 41 for Jessica Meuse 31 voters marked Jessica Meuse as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Sam Woolf  Ranking score is 26 for Sam Woolf 29 voters marked Sam Woolf as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Malaya Watson  Ranking score is 17 for Malaya Watson 7 voters marked Malaya Watson as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Dexter Roberts  Ranking score is 9 for Dexter Roberts 12 voters marked Dexter Roberts as their first choice
Eighth-most popular CJ Harris  Ranking score is 0 for CJ Harris 7 voters marked CJ Harris as their first choice

 

Results of non-contestants poll

Here is a summary of the popularity of non-contestants from this week's extra-questions poll:

  1. Keith Urban
  2. Harry Connick, Jr.
  3. Ryan Seacrest
  4. Jennifer Lopez
  5. Rickey Minor and the Band
  6. Randy Jackson

Keith Urban is the most popular, although Harry Connick, Jr. got the most first-choice votes.  This means that Keith is not the first choice of as many voters, but most voters have a higher regard for Keith.

The relevance and wit of the judges' comments is an important factor in their popularity.  The comments from Jennifer tend to be focused on how much she likes the performance, which is something we, as viewers, tend to have our own opinions about.  In contrast, Keith and (especially) Harry are more likely to point out what we might not have noticed.

It will be interesting to see if the popularity of Harry Connick, Jr. changes over time.  Until a few weeks ago Harry had the advantage that his less-interesting comments would have been edited out, but now that the shows are live we are seeing him make some comments that focus more on himself than on the contestants.  Also, he has not yet learned to resist interrupting the other judges, which is a skill that Keith and Jennifer have learned from previous seasons.  This factor could contribute to his high ranking because the overall pattern is that the people who talk the least tend to be closer to the bottom of the poll results.

It's worth noting that the sound engineer makes the mistake of completely turning down the volume of Keith Urban's microphone when either of the other two judges are speaking, and this can make it hard to hear Keith's less-loud speaking voice when he interjects a comment.  In contrast, we hear nearly all of what Harry says when Jennifer's microphone is turned up.

Top 8 results

Sam Woolf getting the fewest votes should be no surprise to people who follow the VoteFair poll.  Aside from his nervous smile, he doesn't show much of any emotional response, and that along with not being one of the best singers accounts for his low ranking in the VoteFair poll.  As pointed out last week, vote splitting among the males made it likely that the singer with the fewest votes would be a male.

The judges may later regret their early use of their one “save”.  Sam is unlikely to win (unless he quickly learns to become more personable), whereas it's still possible that one of the better singers could end up with the fewest votes because of the unpredictability of the new official voting methods — especially in terms of which singer's fans sign up to cast an extra 50 votes through Google.

Washington DC ballot stuffer

This week the “Washington DC ballot stuffer” tried to stuff 89 ballots!  No one else came close.  (Those ballots were removed both earlier in the week and at the end of the poll.)  Ironically the ballots implied that she reads the commentary here, which indicates a willingness to lie in addition to having no shame about being greedy.  The guess about her gender is based on her preference for Sam Woolf as her first choice.

Thanks for reading

It's heartening to learn that almost half (46%) the voters say they read this commentary.  Thank you for your interest!  And especially thank you for learning how voting should be done.  Please share with others what you learn.

Top 9 results

No surprise this week.  The weak singers are getting eliminated one by one.

As for next week, the clear gender imbalance — 3 females and 5 males — increases the likelihood that next week's elimination will be a male.  This is how vote splitting works.  The voters who prefer a male winner are splitting their votes across more choices, while the voters who prefer a female winner are concentrating their votes on fewer choices.

This week “the big ballot stuffer” in Washington DC was “outstuffed” by someone in Boston, although only by two ballots.

Top 10 results

Caleb Johnson is demonstrating that he can sing more than just rock songs.  Alex Preston and Jena Irene are emerging as the other best singers.  The remaining contestants are, by comparison, struggling.

Dexter Roberts ending up in the bottom three may trigger the Country-music network to increase their votes for him.  However, they would need to offset voting from young pop-music fans, who can now quickly vote using both Facebook and Google accounts.  (Does anyone vote by calling the phone lines anymore?)  The departure of AT&T as a sponsor, with their special-priority text-messaging access, might have weakened the Country-music voters, who are less likely to have both Facebook and Google accounts (compared to having AT&T mobile phones).

This week “the big ballot stuffer” tried to “sneak in” 28 votes.  Want a laugh?  He or she lives (or works) at the northern outskirts of Washington DC!  That place seems to think that cheating and corruption are acceptable.  Yet, no one else came close to trying to stuff as many ballots.  Even the votes coming from outside the United States (which are also removed) no longer involve that much cheating.

Top 11 results

The competition finally started.  The singers who overcame their stage fright (by becoming more comfortable onstage and sharing more of their personality), and who made wise song choices, are rising to the top in popularity.  As usually happens at this stage in the competition, physical appearance is becoming less important.  And Caleb Johnson demonstrated some versatility.  Fortunately the less-interesting personalities were eliminated before reaching the top 10, who will be on the tour.  In other words, the VoteFair poll results are basically matching the officially “measured” popularities, with the expected exception that Dexter Roberts gets lots of official votes from Country-music music fans, but not as much support in the VoteFair poll.

BTW, if you post a link to this VoteFair poll, this link has contestant photos, whereas this link does not have the photos.

Top 12 results

The show's in-progress vote counts on Wednesday night revealled that Dexter Roberts is already getting the votes of well-networked Country-music fans — who vote officially, but mostly do not watch the show.  Presumably social media and Country-music radio stations provide reminders to vote, and instructions on how to vote for him.  Very few Country-music fans vote in this VoteFair poll, so this poll shows him to be less popular than the official vote counts.

As for this week's elimination of seventh-ranked Emily Piriz, it's not really a surprise because all the contestants — except Caleb Johnson — are struggling to get comfortable in front of the huge audience, and — as the judges point out — none of them are wowing us.  The drop in TV ratings reflects this disappointment.  The VoteFair poll results also show us that (based on who votes here) the most popular singer, Majesty Rose, is not the most “popular” according to the first-choice vote counts.  If this were a horse race, all the horses would be tightly packed together.  (Caleb Johnson won't be a front-runner unless he can sing pop music well.)

If nothing changes, Dexter Roberts is the likely winner.

(A personal note to the person who tried to cast 21 ballots: Do you really think your ballot-stuffing attempts are working?)  (And to the voters outside the U.S.: Please read the notification that out-of-country ballots are removed.)

Top 12 commentary

This week all the contestants can fit within the 12-choice limit, so we get to find out how Dexter Roberts, who was omitted from last week's poll (for reasons explained below), fits into the overall ranking.

Top 13 results

This week's bottom three were females, which fits with the general results from the VoteFair poll (after removing a few dozen out-of-country votes and a few stuffed ballots), which shows the males to be more popular than the females, although there are specific exceptions.  Specifically, the most popular females are Majesty Rose and Jessica Meuse, and the least-popular males are Ben Briley and CJ Harris.

Top 13 commentary

This week, although there are 13 singers, there are only 12 singers in the pollDexter Roberts is not included.  Why?  Only 12 choices can be handled here, and it's more important to discover the balance between females and males than to discover the balance between an authentic Country-music singer and the other singers.  If you have followed previous-seasons commentary here, you know why.  Otherwise, within a few weeks, the commentary here will explain why a talented and authentic Country-music singer is different from the other singers — in terms of likelihood of winning.

Season 13 summary table

For poll results, click on the column headings in this summary table.

Photo Contestant Top 13 Top 12 Top 11 Top 10 Top 9 Top 8, First week Top 8, Second week Top 7 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Final
result
Caleb JohnsonCaleb Johnson5613121222332Winner
Jena IreneJena Irene6222312111111Runner-up
Alex PrestonAlex Preston453123333322Out
Jessica MeuseJessica Meuse3444 (tie)4444444Out
Sam WoolfSam Woolf1364 (tie)56
Saved
5555Out
CJ HarrisCJ Harris10105798876Out
Dexter RobertsDexter Roberts(omitted)9888776Out
Malaya WatsonMalaya Watson121196656Out
Majesty RoseMajesty Rose21757Out
MK NobiletteMK Nobilette812119Out
Ben BrileyBen Briley9810Out
Emily PirizEmily Piriz77Out
Kristen O'ConnorKristen O'Connor11Out

 


Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 12

Kelly Clarkson continues to be the overall most popular American Idol.  Next, because of lots of her fans voting here, is Haley Reinhart.  Next are Carrie Underwood, Angie Miller, and Candice Glover.

     
Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 64 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 24 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Second-most popular Haley Reinhart (season 10)  Ranking score is 50 for Haley Reinhart (season 10) 31 voters marked Haley Reinhart (season 10) as their first choice
Third-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 49 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 21 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Angie Miller (season 12)  Ranking score is 38 for Angie Miller (season 12) 17 voters marked Angie Miller (season 12) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Candice Glover (season 12)  Ranking score is 35 for Candice Glover (season 12) 22 voters marked Candice Glover (season 12) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Jessica Sanchez (season 11)  Ranking score is 29 for Jessica Sanchez (season 11) 16 voters marked Jessica Sanchez (season 11) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 24 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 2 voters marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Adam Lambert (season 8)  Ranking score is 18 for Adam Lambert (season 8) 9 voters marked Adam Lambert (season 8) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Phillip Phillips (season 11)  Ranking score is 14 for Phillip Phillips (season 11) 8 voters marked Phillip Phillips (season 11) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 9 for David Cook (season 7) 9 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
11th-most popular Kree Harrison (season 12)  Ranking score is 5 for Kree Harrison (season 12) 0 voter marked Kree Harrison (season 12) as their first choice
12th-most popular Amber Holcomb (season 12)  Ranking score is 0 for Amber Holcomb (season 12) 0 voter marked Amber Holcomb (season 12) as their first choice

Detailed results of VoteFair cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 12

 


Link to Season 12 commentary

 

Season 12 summary table

The asterisks (*) below indicate and the delayed elimination of Lazaro Arbos and the slightly early elimination of Aubrey Cleland.  (The elimination of first-ranked Angie Miller was not a significant surprise because many votes in this poll were cast before the performance night when Candice Glover gave especially great performances, and because Kree Harrison got lots of official votes from Country-music fans who do not vote in this poll.)

For poll results, click on the column headings in this summary table.  The ranking information in parentheses is the official vote-count order that was announced on the show.

Contestant Top 10 females
Top 10 males
Top 10 Top 9 Top 8 Top 7 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4,
first week
Top 4,
second week
Top 3 Top 2 Finale
Candice Glover3 (f)2
(in top 3)
3221
(top 2)
12
(bottom 2)
221Winner
Kree Harrison2 (f)3
(in top 3)
211
(in top 3)
2
(top 2)
3
(bottom 2)
3
(top 2)
332Runner-up
Angie Miller1 (f)1
(in top 3)
133
(in top 3)
321
(top 2)
11 *Out
Amber Holcomb4 (f)4
(in 5th)
4444
(bottom 2)
44
(bottom 2)
4Out
Janelle Arthur6 (f)6
(in 6th)
555
(in bottom 2)
55Out
Lazaro Arbos2 (m)9
(in 4th)
9 *8 *7 *
(in top 3)
6Out
Burnell Taylor3 (m)7
(in 7th)
666Out
Devin Velez1 (m)5
(in 9th)
77Out
Paul Jolley5 (m)8
(in 8th)
8Out
Curtis Finch Jr.4 (m)10Out
Aubrey Cleland5 * (f)Out(on tour
as 11th)
Charlie Askew10 (m)Out(in 12th
place)
Nick Boddington6 (m)Out
Breanna Steer7 (f)Out
Vincent Powell7 (m)Out
Adriana Latonio8 (f)Out
Cortez Shaw8 (m)Out
Tenna Torres9 (f)Out
Elijah Liu9 (m)Out
Zoanette Johnson10 (f)Out

 


Cross-season poll, seasons 1 through 11

Here is a link to this cross-season poll results

On June 6 more than half the ballots (55%) in this cross-season poll had been cast by voters who are outside the United States.  Those ballots have been removed.  The results did not change much.  Jessica Sanchez is still in first place.  That does not necessarily mean that she is more popular than Phillip Phillips; rather it means that her fans vote here more than the fans of Phillip Phillips vote here.

 


Season 11   (2012)

Link to Season 11 commentary

 

Season 11 summary table

The asterisks (*) below indicate the very early elimination of Colton Dixon, and (in the preceding week) the early near-elimination (and judges' saving) of Jessica Sanchez.  The numbers in parentheses indicate a different ranking based on re-calculating the results with a more-rigorous removal of non-US voters (from many countries around the world, but especially from the Philipines).

Contestant Pre-singing Top 25 Top 13 Top 12 Top 10 Top 9 Top 8 Top 7,
first week
Top 7,
second week
Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Winner
This row has results
with non-US votes removed:
    Top 13 Top 12 Top 10 Top 9 Top 8 Top 7,
first week
Top 7,
second week
Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 (same)  
Phillip Phillips3 (m)1 (m)1 (m)2 (3)22 (1)232 (1)23422Winner
Jessica Sanchez1 (f)1 (f)1 (f)1 (tie) (2)11 (2)11* Saved1 (2)11 (2)111Runner-up
Joshua Ledet6 (m)2 (m)3 (m)3 (4)567 (6)5 (6)5 (6)543 (2)3Out
Hollie Cavanagh2 (f)2 (f)2 (f)1 (tie) (1)3 (4)56 (7)77 (5)42 (1)2 (3)Out
Skylar Laine3 (f)3 (f)3 (f)5 (6)7 (6)754435Out
Elise Testone7 (f)4 (f)5 (f)76 (7)446 (5)6 (7)6Out
Colton Dixon1 (m)3 (m)2 (m)4 (5)4 (3)3323*Out
DeAndre Brackensick4 (m)10 (m)5 (m)8998Out
Heejun Han2 (m)4 (m)4 (m)9108Out
Erika Van Pelt6 (f)8 (f)4 (f)6 (8)8Out
Shannon Magrane5 (f)6 (f)6 (f)10Out
Jermaine Jones5 (f)6 (f)6 (f)10Kicked
out
Jeremy Rosado7 (m)8 (m)6 (m)Out
Reed Grimm5 (m)5 (m)Out
Jen Hirsh4 (f)5 (f)Out
Creighton Fraker8 (m)6 (m)Out
Aaron Marcellus9 (tie) (m)7 (m)Out
Hallie Day9 (f)7 (f)Out
Adam Brock10 (m)9 (m)Out
Chelsea Sorrell11 (f)9 (f)Out
Haley Johnsen8 (f)10 (f)Out
Baylie Brown10 (f)11 (f)Out
Chase Likens11 (m)11 (m)Out
Eben Franckewitz9 (tie) (m)12 (m)Out
Brielle Von Hugel12 (f)12 (f)Out

 


Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 10

Many fans of Haley Reinhart found, and voted in, this cross-season poll.  They ranked James Durbin, Scotty McCreery, and Lauren Alaina "insincerely" low, which is an attempt to vote "strategically".  Fans of those and other singers failed to vote in this poll.  As in any poll, the results are controlled by who votes, and who doesn't.

     
Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Haley Reinhart (season 10)  Ranking score is 63 for Haley Reinhart (season 10) 171 voters marked Haley Reinhart (season 10) as their first choice
Second-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 61 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 57 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Third-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 57 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 52 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 46 for David Cook (season 7) 84 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Adam Lambert (season 8)  Ranking score is 36 for Adam Lambert (season 8) 43 voters marked Adam Lambert (season 8) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Kris Allen (season 8)  Ranking score is 30 for Kris Allen (season 8) 20 voters marked Kris Allen (season 8) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 24 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 8 voters marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Siobhan Magnus (season 9)  Ranking score is 18 for Siobhan Magnus (season 9) 30 voters marked Siobhan Magnus (season 9) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular James Durbin (season 10)  Ranking score is 14 for James Durbin (season 10) 23 voters marked James Durbin (season 10) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Scotty McCreery (season 10)  Ranking score is 9 for Scotty McCreery (season 10) 34 voters marked Scotty McCreery (season 10) as their first choice
11th-most popular Lauren Alaina (season 10)  Ranking score is 5 for Lauren Alaina (season 10) 10 voters marked Lauren Alaina (season 10) as their first choice
12th-most popular Lee DeWyze (season 9)  Ranking score is 0 for Lee DeWyze (season 9) 5 voters marked Lee DeWyze (season 9) as their first choice

Detailed results of cross-season poll

 


Why is there no VoteFair poll for the X-Factor show?

A fan of this site has asked "why is there no VoteFair poll for the X-Factor show?"  Here is the answer:

For the American Idol show, the role of the VoteFair polls is to assist voters, who in turn are meaningfully helping their favorite singers.  Note that on American Idol the judges do not win or lose.

In contrast, the X-Factor show amounts to four music producers being the contestants.  The show calls them "judges", but they aren't.  They control the singers.  And each producer/"judge" favors "his" or "her" singers.  That's too much intervention for the voters to feel like their votes are the only factor in determining who wins.

For a similar reason there are no VoteFair polls for shows in which the "judges" get to vote; that makes it difficult for audience votes to override the judges' votes.  TV producers who try to replicate the success of American Idol are failing to realize that the popularity of American Idol is due to the fact that the voters are the only people who determine who wins.

(The So You Think You Can Dance show does handle the voting reasonably fairly, but a VoteFair poll for that show did not get enough voters here to justify offering a VoteFair poll in later seasons.)

 


Why not vote for the worst?

A website visitor has asked "why not vote for the worst?" There are several reasons, including these:

  • Most voters would pretend that their most-disliked choice is the contestant who is the biggest competitor to their favorite, and they would try to "bury" that competitor in an attempt to protect their favorite.  Even with first-choice-only voting such a strategy is unlikely to put the competitor into the bottom.  If this kind of voting were used officially, it would lead to bigger surprises than what now occur.
  • In the VoteFair American Idol poll, anyone can start at the bottom of the ballot and mark their most-disliked choice, and work upward toward their favorite choice.  The voting and the counting method are symmetrical.  As for the results, usually they would come out about the same, particularly in terms of who is most popular and who is least popular.
  • Perhaps the most important reason for not voting for the worst is that it fosters hatred, which is already in excessive abundance around the globe.  Contests are intended to be entertaining, and mean-spiritedness detracts from the enjoyment.  Remember that enjoyment is more important than who wins and who loses.  (Part of the reason the American Idol TV show is so popular is that it is fun to watch, and fun to talk about.)

This topic brings up an interesting question.  When you are in an audience clapping for performers, and the loudness of the clapping is being used to determine who is most popular, is it ethical to clap loudly for your favorite choice and then only pretend to clap (with very little sound) for all the other contestants? That's an ethical question for you to consider.  Fortunately the antidote to that technique is to recognize that measuring the loudness of clapping usually does not produce fair results when there are more than two choices, just as using first-choice-only ballots (and "plurality" counting) usually does not produce fair results when there are more than two choices.

 


Season 10

Below is a table that summarizes the main causes of Season 10's early and delayed eliminations.

Contestant Early or delayed
elimination
Vote splitting
or concentration
AT&T text-
messaging issues
Phone
voting issues
Online
voting issues
Country-music
voting bloc
Haley Reinhart Early
(slightly)
Vote splitting
(slight, three ways)
Non-viewers
voting
Saturated lines
(texting advantage)
  Disliked
(versus Lauren)
James Durbin Early Vote splitting
(James/Haley/Lauren)
Non-viewers
voting
Phone-system
failure
(Reports of
failures)
Disliked
(relatively)
Jacob Lusk Delayed Concentration Power voting?
(demographic unknown)
     
Pia Toscano Very early Vote splitting (not
first choice of enough fans)
       
Casey Abrams Early
(then saved)
Vote splitting (not
first choice of enough fans)
       
Thia Megia Delayed Concentration
(online votes)
    Votes from
Philipines
 

 

Link to Season 10 commentary

 

For poll results, click on the column headings in the summary table below.

Season 10 summary table

The asterisks (*) below indicate the early elimination of Haley Reinhart and James Durbin, the very early elimination of Pia Toscano, the almost-elimination-and-saving of Casey Abrams, and the delayed elimination of Jacob Lusk.

Contestant Top 12 females
Top 12 males
Top 7 females
Top 6 males
Top 12 Top 11
First Week
Top 11
Second Week
Top 9 Top 8 Top 7 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Winner
Scotty McCreery2 (m)3 (m)23311222221Winner
Lauren Alaina3 (f)2 (f)55563334432Runner-up
Haley Reinhart4 (f)4 (f)101064544331*Out--
James Durbin3 (m)2 (m)322221111*Out----
Jacob Lusk4 (m)6 (m)998 (tie)9*8*7*6*5Out------
Casey Abrams1 (m)1 (m)44*4
Judge's save!
5455Out--------
Stefano Langone6 (m)
(wildcard)
5 (m)677766Out----------
Paul McDonald5 (m)4 (m)888 (tie)87Out------------
Pia Toscano1 (f)1 (f)1113*Out--------------
Thia Megia2 (f)3 (f)769Out----------------
Naima Adedapo7 (f)
(wildcard)
5 (f)121110Out----------------
Karen Rodriguez5 (f)6 (f)11Out--------------------
Ashthon Jones9 (f)
(wildcard)
7 (f)Out----------------------
Lauren Turner6 (f)Out------------------------
Robbie Rosen7 (m)Out------------------------
Tim Halperin8 (m)Out------------------------
Julie Zorrilla8 (f)Out------------------------
Brett Loewenstern9 (m)Out------------------------
Jovany Barreto10 (m)Out------------------------
Kendra Chantelle10 (f)Out------------------------
Clint Jun Gamboa11 (m)Out------------------------
Rachel Zevita11 (f)Out------------------------
Jordan Dorsey12 (m)Out------------------------
Ta-Tynisa Wilson12 (f)Out------------------------

 


Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 9

Below are the final results (and detailed results) for the cross-season poll (after removing multiple votes from the same voter).  Lee DeWyze is ranked insincerely low by the more-numerous (in this poll) Siobhan Magnus fans, but he is not popular enough compared to Kris Allen to become the second-most-representative choice.  As usual, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are near the top.  The popular non-winners — Siobhan Magnus, Jennifer Hudson, and Clay Aiken — who are (here) more popular than their season's winner reminds us of the unfairness caused by vote splitting — and voting irregularities.

     
Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Kris Allen (season 8)  Ranking score is 53 for Kris Allen (season 8) 50 voters marked Kris Allen (season 8) as their first choice
Second-most popular Siobhan Magnus (season 9)  Ranking score is 51 for Siobhan Magnus (season 9) 84 voters marked Siobhan Magnus (season 9) as their first choice
Third-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 50 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 24 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 40 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 42 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Adam Lambert (season 8)  Ranking score is 35 for Adam Lambert (season 8) 29 voters marked Adam Lambert (season 8) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 30 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 25 voters marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 25 for David Cook (season 7) 26 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Lee DeWyze (season 9)  Ranking score is 18 for Lee DeWyze (season 9) 44 voters marked Lee DeWyze (season 9) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Casey James (season 9)  Ranking score is 12 for Casey James (season 9) 20 voters marked Casey James (season 9) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Clay Aiken (season 2)  Ranking score is 8 for Clay Aiken (season 2) 33 voters marked Clay Aiken (season 2) as their first choice
11th-most popular David Archuleta (season 7)  Ranking score is 4 for David Archuleta (season 7) 15 voters marked David Archuleta (season 7) as their first choice
12th-most popular Crystal Bowersox (season 9)  Ranking score is 0 for Crystal Bowersox (season 9) 22 voters marked Crystal Bowersox (season 9) as their first choice

 


Season 9

Link to Season 9 commentary

The asterisks (*) below indicate the early eliminations of Lilly Scott, Alex Lambert, Katelyn Epperly, Lacey Brown, Didi Benami, Katie Stevens, and Siobhan Magnus, the almost-elimination-and-saving of Michael Lynche, and the delayed eliminations of Paige Miles and Tim Urban.

Contestant Top 12 females
Top 12 males
Top 10 females
Top 10 males
Top 8 females
Top 8 males
Top 12 Top 11 Top 10 Top 9
First Time
Top 9
Second Time
Top 7 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Winner
Lee DeWyze31133233232222Winner
Crystal Bowersox11122111121111Runner-up
Casey James2224444444333Out--
Michael Lynche5546655* Saved65654Out----
Aaron Kelly46675677654Out------
Siobhan Magnus4221132231*Out--------
Tim Urban1287*12*9*10*9*8*7Out----------
Katie Stevens56798865*Out------------
Andrew Garcia1351010989Out------------
Didi Benami244577*Out----------------
Paige Miles1188*11*11Out------------------
Lacey Brown10968*Out--------------------
Lilly Scott333*Out----------------------
Alex Lambert843*Out----------------------
Katelyn Epperly655*Out----------------------
Todrick Hall778Out----------------------
Michelle Delamor77Out------------------------
John Park109Out------------------------
Jermaine Sellers1110Out------------------------
Haeley Vaughn1210Out------------------------
Tyler Grady6Out--------------------------
Janell Wheeler8Out--------------------------
Ashley Rodriguez9Out--------------------------
Joe Muņoz9Out--------------------------

 


Cross-season poll for seasons 1 through 8

The results of this cross-season poll (after removing duplicates) reveal that fans of Clay Aiken and David Archuleta are well-networked and telling one another to vote here.  Each season, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are at or near the top because they are popular among all the people who vote here, even though they don't get as many first-choice votes.

Adam Lambert appears to be less popular, but the VoteFair representative ranking results reveal that he would be the most popular if the ballots from Clay Aiken fans were ignored.  This also means that most Clay Aiken fans rank Adam Lambert insincerely low.

Overall, notice that this kind of comparison—where every ballot counts, and every voter ranks all the candidates—reveals true popularity more accurately than simply counting first-choice votes.  (If your favorite wasn't in this poll, note that they didn't do well in previous cross-season polls.)

(Detailed results)

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Clay Aiken (season 2)  Ranking score is 49 for Clay Aiken (season 2) 2371 voters marked Clay Aiken (season 2) as their first choice
Second-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 46 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 53 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Third-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 39 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 50 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 34 for David Cook (season 7) 203 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular David Archuleta (season 7)  Ranking score is 31 for David Archuleta (season 7) 1390 voters marked David Archuleta (season 7) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Kris Allen (season 8)  Ranking score is 27 for Kris Allen (season 8) 204 voters marked Kris Allen (season 8) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Adam Lambert (season 8)  Ranking score is 20 for Adam Lambert (season 8) 1545 voters marked Adam Lambert (season 8) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Allison Iraheta (season 8)  Ranking score is 16 for Allison Iraheta (season 8) 98 voters marked Allison Iraheta (season 8) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 12 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 50 voters marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Jordin Sparks (season 6)  Ranking score is 8 for Jordin Sparks (season 6) 51 voters marked Jordin Sparks (season 6) as their first choice
11th-most popular Elliott Yamin (season 5)  Ranking score is 5 for Elliott Yamin (season 5) 50 voters marked Elliott Yamin (season 5) as their first choice
12th-most popular Danny Gokey (season 8)  Ranking score is 0 for Danny Gokey (season 8) 57 voters marked Danny Gokey (season 8) as their first choice
 

Season 8 poll

Link to Season 8 commentary

The asterisks (*) below indicate the early eliminations of Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, and Alexis Grace.

Contestant Group 1, Group 2,
Group 3, Wild card
Top 13
(pre-vote)
Top 11 Top 10 Top 9 Top 8 Top 7 Top 7,
again
Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Winner
Kris Allen4 (g2)74444322322Winner
Adam Lambert1 (g2)12111111111*Runner-up
Danny Gokey1 (g1)2123344443Out--
Allison Iraheta2 (g2)333222332*Out----
Matt Giraud6 (g2)
(2 in wc)
655555
(saved)
55Out------
Anoop Desai3 (g1)
(1 in wc)
9766666Out--------
Lil Rounds1 (g3)4877777Out--------
Scott MacIntyre2 (g3)810988Out------------
Megan Corkrey3 (g2)
(2 in wc)
10989Out--------------
Michael Sarver5 (g1)111110Out----------------
Alexis Grace2 (g1)56*Out------------------
Jasmine Murray8 (g2)
(5 in wc)
12Out--------------------
Jorge Nunez3 (g3)13Out--------------------
Ricky Braddy4 (g1)
(4 in wc)
Out----------------------
Felicia Barton4 (g3)Out----------------------
Mishavonna Henson5 (g2)Out----------------------
Ju'Not Joyner5 (g3)Out----------------------
Ann Marie Boskovich6 (g1)Out----------------------
Kristen McNamara6 (g3)Out----------------------
Tatiana Nicole Del Toro7 (g1)
(8 in wc)
Out----------------------
Jesse Langseth7 (g2)
(6 in wc)
Out----------------------
Von Smith7 (g3)
(7 in wc)
Out----------------------
Brent Keith8 (g1)Out----------------------
Kendall Beard8 (g3)Out----------------------
Jackie Tohn9 (g1)Out----------------------
Kai Kalama9 (g2)Out----------------------
Taylor Vaifanua9 (g3)Out----------------------
Stephen Fowler10 (g1)Out----------------------
Nick Mitchell10 (g2)Out----------------------
Arianna Afsar10 (g3)Out----------------------
Casey Carlson11 (g1)Out----------------------
Matt Breitzke11 (g2)Out----------------------
Alex Wagner-Trugman11 (g3)Out----------------------
Stevie Wright12 (g1)Out----------------------
Jeanine Vailes12 (g2)Out----------------------
Nathaniel Marshall12 (g3)Out----------------------

 


Cross-season poll for seasons 1 through 7

The results of this cross-season poll (after removing duplicates) reveal that fans of David Archuleta are well-networked and telling one another to vote here.  Also notice that some of the first-place winners are at or near the bottom.  This demonstrates the unfairness of using (primitive) single-mark ballots.  The more popular singers would have been the winners if official voting used order-of-preference ballots.  (Detailed results)

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular David Archuleta (season 7)  Ranking score is 93 for David Archuleta (season 7) 1047 voters marked David Archuleta (season 7) as their first choice
Second-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 61 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 35 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Third-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 55 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 25 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Elliott Yamin (season 5)  Ranking score is 43 for Elliott Yamin (season 5) 7 voters marked Elliott Yamin (season 5) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Jordin Sparks (season 6)  Ranking score is 37 for Jordin Sparks (season 6) 6 voters marked Jordin Sparks (season 6) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Clay Aiken (season 2)  Ranking score is 31 for Clay Aiken (season 2) 2 voters marked Clay Aiken (season 2) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 26 for David Cook (season 7) 55 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 19 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 0 voter marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Ruben Studdard (season 2)  Ranking score is 12 for Ruben Studdard (season 2) 0 voters marked Ruben Studdard (season 2) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Blake Lewis (season 6)  Ranking score is 8 for Blake Lewis (season 6) 2 voters marked Blake Lewis (season 6) as their first choice
Eleventh-most popular Taylor Hicks (season 5)  Ranking score is 4 for Taylor Hicks (season 5) 0 voter marked Taylor Hicks (season 5) as their first choice
Twelfth-most popular Fantasia Barrino (season 3)  Ranking score is 0 for Fantasia Barrino (season 3) 0 voter marked Fantasia Barrino (season 3) as their first choice

 


Season 7 commentary

The final VoteFair poll results indicated that David Archuleta was slightly more popular than David Cook, so why did David Cook win?

Having the phone lines open for four hours surely limited the late-night and after-midnight calls from younger fansDavid Archuleta has more young fans than David Cook, so this gave an advantage to older fans, and therefore David Cook.  This alone could account for the surprise result.

In a broader sense, the VoteFair poll cannot predict this kind of surprise because this poll does not attempt to duplicate the same conditions—especially limited hours and multiple votes—that characterize the official voting.  These different conditions easily account for the different results.  Also remember that this was a close race in both the official results and the VoteFair poll.  When a race is close, anything can happen.

Why was Michael Johns eliminated early?

Unlike the other seven singers (still there when he was eliminated), Michael Johns did not receive a concentration of first-choice votes from an established large fan base willing to continuously dial his phone number.  That happened because, relatively speaking, he does not appeal to any ready-made, well-defined, and well-networked fan base.  In contrast, keeping in mind that averages do not apply to individuals, consider that rock-music fans would tend to concentrate votes on David Cook, country-music fans would tend to concentrate votes on Kristy Lee Cook, African Americans would tend to concentrate votes on Syesha Mercado, female pre-teens and teens would tend to concentrate votes on Jason Castro and David Archuleta, fans of female musicians would tend to concentrate votes on Brooke White (as the most popular female singer), conservative adults would tend to concentrate votes on David Archuleta and Brooke White, and rebellious teenagers and vocal-quality-conscious musicians would tend to concentrate votes on Carly Smithson.  Why didn't the previous week's VoteFair poll predict his early elimination?  Because in this poll each voter votes only once, whereas the official voting allows dedicated fans to vote as many times as the phone system can handle.  Note that vote concentration is the flip side of vote splitting.

 

This table summarizes the VoteFair poll results.  To view any week's poll rankings and details, click the link(s) in that week's heading.  Asterisks indicate cases where vote splitting or vote concentration caused a delayed elimination—in the case of Kristy Lee Cook and Syesha Mercado—or early elimination—in the case of Michael Johns.

Contestant Top 12 females
Top 12 males
Top 10 females
Top 10 males
Top 8 females
Top 8 males
Top 6 females
Top 6 males
Top 11 Top 10 Top 9 Top 8 Top 7 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Winner
David Cook5 (m)5 (m)4 (m)2 (m)2223221122Winner
David Archuleta1 (m)1 (m)1 (m)1 (m)1111112211Runner
up
Syesha Mercado2 (f)3 (f)4 (f)4 (f)9777 *66 *5 *4 *3Out--
Jason Castro3 (m)3 (m)3 (m)4 (m)56623333Out----
Brooke White4 (f)2 (f)2 (f)1 (f)3335454Out------
Carly Smithson6 (f)5 (f)3 (f)2 (f)455654Out--------
Kristy Lee Cook10 (f)8 (f)6 (f)6 (f)11 *10 *9 *8 *7 *Out----------
Michael Johns2 (m)2 (m)2 (m)3 (m)6444 *Out------------
Ramiele Malubay1 (f)1 (f)1 (f)3 (f)788Out--------------
Chikezie Eze11 (m)8 (m)6 (m)6 (m)89Out----------------
Amanda Overmyer7 (f)10 (f)8 (f)5 (f)10Out------------------
David Hernandez6 (m)4 (m)5 (m)5 (m)Out--------------------
Asia'h Epperson3 (f)4 (f)5 (f)Out----------------------
Danny Norriega7 (m)7 (m)7 (m)Out----------------------
Kady Malloy8 (f)7 (f)7 (f)Out----------------------
Luke Menard9 (m)9 (m)8 (m)Out----------------------
Alaina Whitaker5 (f)6 (f)Out------------------------
Robbie Carrico4 (m)6 (m)Out------------------------
Alexandréa Lushington9 (f)9 (f)Out------------------------
Jason Yeager10 (m)10 (m)Out------------------------
Colton David Berry8 (m)Out--------------------------
Joanne Borgella11 (f)Out--------------------------
Amy Jean Davis12 (f)Out--------------------------
Garrett Haley12 (m)Out--------------------------

 


Cross-season poll for seasons 1 through 6

In this summary table, notice that some of the first-place winners are at or near the bottom.  This demonstrates the unfairness of using (primitive) single-mark ballots.  The more popular singers would have been the winners if official voting used order-of-preference ballots.  (Detailed results)

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 59 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 19 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Second-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 54 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 18 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Third-most popular Jordin Sparks (season 6)  Ranking score is 54 for Jordin Sparks (season 6) 39 voters marked Jordin Sparks (season 6) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Elliott Yamin (season 5)  Ranking score is 38 for Elliott Yamin (season 5) 8 voters marked Elliott Yamin (season 5) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Melinda Doolittle (season 6)  Ranking score is 34 for Melinda Doolittle (season 6) 20 voters marked Melinda Doolittle (season 6) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Blake Lewis (season 6)  Ranking score is 27 for Blake Lewis (season 6) 19 voters marked Blake Lewis (season 6) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Clay Aiken (season 2)  Ranking score is 23 for Clay Aiken (season 2) 9 voters marked Clay Aiken (season 2) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 18 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 3 voters marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Katharine McPhee (season 5)  Ranking score is 13 for Katharine McPhee (season 5) 6 voters marked Katharine McPhee (season 5) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Taylor Hicks (season 5)  Ranking score is 7 for Taylor Hicks (season 5) 8 voters marked Taylor Hicks (season 5) as their first choice
Eleventh-most popular Ruben Studdard (season 2)  Ranking score is 4 for Ruben Studdard (season 2) 0 voters marked Ruben Studdard (season 2) as their first choice
Twelfth-most popular Fantasia Barrino (season 3)  Ranking score is 0 for Fantasia Barrino (season 3) 0 voters marked Fantasia Barrino (season 3) as their first choice

 


Season 6

In season 6, vote splitting and vote concentration (which is the flip-side of vote splitting) caused the long-running delay in eliminating Sanjaya Malakar, and caused the slightly early elimination of Melinda Doolittle. (They are marked with asterisks in the table.)

In this VoteFair poll, Sanjaya was correctly identified as being the least popular every week for 8 weeks.  During that time he was designated by the "vote for the worst" website and radio-show host Howard Stern as "the worst", and worthy of votes to make the show entertaining.  This concentration of votes is the flip-side of vote-splitting.

As in politics, which also uses single-mark ballots, money is concentrated on a single candidate in each U.S. primary election, and if necessary money is used to temporarily back a candidate who is politically similar to the candidate who is most disliked by the biggest sources of money.

There was never any chance of Sanjaya winning.  The strategy of concentrating votes in contests where only first-choice preferences are considered can work when there are lots of other contestants among whom the other voters split their votes.  However, the strategy fails when there are fewer choices.

Melinda was eliminated before Blake Lewis because she and Jordin split the primitive single-mark (official) votes of the voters who preferred a female winner, while voters who preferred a male winner concentrated their votes on the same person.  (If voting had been split into two-way ("pairwise") contests, Jordin would have won over Blake, and Melinda would have won over Blake.)  Nevertheless, Melinda is not as popular as a first choice, and that's all that counts in single-mark-ballot voting.

The lesson?  The person with the most (first-choice) votes is not necessarily the most popular, and the person with the fewest (first-choice) votes is not necessarily the least popular.

Learn more about vote splitting at Wikipedia.

 

(Asterisks indicate delayed or premature eliminations.)

Contestant Top 12
males

Top 12
females
Top 10
males

Top 10
females
Top 8
males

Top 8
females
Top 12 Top 11 Top 10 Top 9 Top 8 Top 7 Top 6
First week
Top 6
Second week
Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Winner
Jordin Sparks4-tie
(f)
3 (f)3 (f)42221112121Winner
Blake Lewis1 (m)1 (m)1 (m)33333233332Out
Melinda Doolittle2 (f)2 (f)1 (f)1111232121 *Out--
Lakisha Jones1 (f)1 (f)2 (f)244444454Out----
Phil Stacey3 (m)3 (m)4 (m)910976654Out------
Chris Richardson4 (m)4 (m)3 (m)75665566Out------
Sanjaya Malakar10 (m)10 (m) *8 (m) *12 *11 *10 *9 *8 *7 *Out----------
Haley Scarnato7-tie
(f)
7 (f)7 (f)119887Out------------
Gina Glocksen4-tie
(f)
6 (f)6 (f)6755Out--------------
Chris Sligh2 (m)2 (m)2 (m)567Out----------------
Stephanie Edwards6 (f)4 (f)5 (f)88Out------------------
Brandon Rogers5 (m)7 (m)6 (m)10Out--------------------
Sabrina Sloan3 (f)5 (f)4 (f)Out----------------------
Sundance Head11 (m)5 (m)5 (m)Out----------------------
Jared Cotter8 (m)6 (m)7 (m)Out----------------------
Antonella Barba11 (f)10 (f)8 (f)Out----------------------
Leslie Hunt7-tie
(f)
8 (f)Out------------------------
Nicholas Pedro7 (m)8 (m)Out------------------------
Alaina Alexander10 (f)9 (f)Out------------------------
A. J. Tabaldo6 (m)9 (m)Out------------------------
Nicole Tranquillo7-tie
(f)
Out--------------------------
Amy Krebs12 (f)Out--------------------------
Rudy Cardenas9 (m)Out--------------------------
Paul Kim12 (m)Out--------------------------

 


Results of cross-season polls

Five-season poll results based on 2,000 votes
(after repeat votes eliminated) (detailed results)

  1. Clay Aiken
  2. Kelly Clarkson
  3. Taylor Hicks (second-most representative)
  4. Carrie Underwood
  5. Elliott Yamin
  6. Chris Daughtry
  7. Bo Bice
  8. Ruben Studdard
  9. Katharine McPhee
  10. Constantine Maroulis
  11. Fantasia Barrino

Four-season poll results based on 6,338 votes
(after repeat votes eliminated) (detailed results)

  1. Clay Aiken
  2. Kelly Clarkson
  3. Carrie Underwood
  4. Bo Bice
  5. Constantine Maroulis (second-most representative)

 

Season 5 summary

In season 5 there were three unfairly early eliminations. (They are marked with asterisks in the table.)

Contestant Top 12 females Top 12 males Top 10 females Top 10 males Top 8 females Top 8 males Top 12
ranking
Top 11
ranking
Top 10
ranking
Top 9
ranking
Top 8
ranking
Top 7
ranking
Top 6
ranking
Top 5
ranking
Top 4
ranking
Top 3
ranking
Top 2
ranking
Final
result
Taylor Hicks1 (m)1 (m)2 (m)23111111111Winner
Katharine McPhee3 (f)1 (f)1 (tie) (f)31354444432Out
Elliott Yamin4 (m)4 (m)3 (m)6652333222 *Out--
Chris Daughtry3 (m)2 (m)1 (m)122322233 *Out----
Paris Bennett1 (f)2 (f)4 (f)97667555Out------
Kellie Pickler4 (f)4 (f)1 (tie) (f)5577566Out--------
Ace Young2 (m)3 (m)4 (m)898987Out----------
Bucky Covington9-tie (m)5 (m)5 (m)1010986Out------------
Mandisa5 (f)6 (f)3 (f)4444 *Out--------------
Lisa Tucker2 (f)3 (f)6 (f)7810Out----------------
Kevin Corvais6 (m)7 (m)7 (m)1211Out------------------
Melissa McGhee77 (f)7 (f)11Out--------------------
Gedeon McKinney8 (m)9 (m)6 (m)Out----------------------
Ayla Brown6 (f)5 (f)5 (f)Out----------------------
Will Makar5 (m)6 (m)8 (m)Out----------------------
Kinnik Sky10 (f)9 (f)8 (f)Out----------------------
Jose "Sway" Penala9-tie (m)10 (m)Out------------------------
Brenna Gethers12 (f)10 (f)Out------------------------
David Radford7 (m)8 (m)Out------------------------
Heather Cox8 (f)8 (f)Out------------------------
Patrick Hall11 (m)Out--------------------------
Stevie Scott11 (f)Out--------------------------
Bobby Bennet12 (m)Out--------------------------
Becky O'Donohue9 (f)Out--------------------------

 

The biggest surprise elimination

In Season 3 Jennifer Hudson was eliminated unfairly early.  There were seven contestants remaining.  She and Fantasia Barrino — who was the final winner — and LaToya London were female, African-American, excellent singers.  All three of these previously popular singers ended up in the "bottom three" that night. This was a classic demonstration of vote splitting in which the presence of similar choices reduces the votes for each of the similar choices. Its effect is well-known, but the solution — order-of-preference voting and VoteFair ranking — is only beginning to be recognized.

Remember: The person with the fewest votes is not necessarily the least popular!

 

As a clarification, Constantine Maroulis was not eliminated early because of vote-splitting, but rather because of a phone-system failure.  (A statistical analysis of the phone-call data could have identified the time and place of the failure.  This analysis also could have identified who really had the fewest first-choice votes.)

 

Like these American Idol polls?  Spread the word!  Also you are invited to voice your opinion — about VoteFair ranking (not about contestants) — on the Testimonials page.

 

 


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