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VoteFair American Idol poll

American Idol Season 11 commentary

Finale results commentary

Based on the final result of Phillip Phillips winning, his fans were very dedicated in the official voting.  That's not surprising.  Young pre-teen and teenage girls have learned from previous seasons that they cannot assume their favorite is safe just because he (usually rather than she) stayed out of the bottom every week.  And this season they were not competing with country-music fans.  Their main competition was older folks who may vote a lot, but who aren't as dedicated in their voting because they aren't likely to go to a concert to see any of the contestants.

This difference brings up a related misunderstanding about this VoteFair poll.  This poll cannot predict who will win.  This poll limits voting to one vote per person, whereas official voting has no overall limits (just a limit of 50 online votes).  And this poll cannot attract the same demographics as the official poll.  Nevertheless, this VoteFair poll helps to measure the popularity of the contestants in a way that is not easily corrupted by a few people “stuffing the ballot box,” which is easy to do with single-mark-ballot voting, which is what most other polls use.

As stated below by the person at Idol Analytics, which compares American Idol polls, “Your site selected 20/30 bottom group contestants and 5/12 eliminated contestants correctly (excluding the finale).  That's better than any other single index that I assessed, including Dialidol and Zabasearch.”

Those of you who vote in this poll deserve credit for the usefulness of this poll.  The increasing poplularity of this VoteFair poll makes it more accurate.  Thank you for your participation!

Results after removing all votes from outside the United States

After writing and running code that more rigorously eliminates votes coming from outside the United States, the results are not dramatically different.  The details are in the Summary chart.

The biggest change is that without the numerous votes from the Philipines, Jessica Sanchez was not in first place every single week.  Two weeks Phillip Phillips was in first place, and two weeks Hollie Cavanagh was in first place.  The other noticeable pattern is that Hollie Cavanagh's ranking jumped around a bit, but not in a consistent pattern.

In other words, the votes from outside the United States did not make a dramatic difference in the VoteFair poll results.

(Thank you for your patience as the new code was written and the results were re-calculated.)

Perspective from

Here is a comment from Idol Analytics: American Idol predictions, statistics and analysis:

“People complaining about your site's sampling are being ridiculous.  Your site selected 20/30 bottom group contestants and 5/12 eliminated contestants correctly (excluding the finale).  That's better than any other single index that I assessed, including Dialidol and Zabasearch.  No poll is perfect.  Your site clearly captures a significant part of the voting.”

And here is a comment posted at Idol Analytics:

“I still think that 60/40 was close to the right handicapping, but of course we'll never know.  Intrade had Phil at over 80% all day.  Zabasearch and Votefair made a bad call, but that just shows that Idol prediction is a tough game.”

Thank you Idol Analyitics for putting the results in perspective.

This year the race was so much closer than in previous years, and that means our ears were graced with lots of superb singing, which is more important than having predictable results.


Interesting.  One person has written to criticize this VoteFair poll for not matching the demographics of the voters who vote in the official American Idol voting, while another person has written to criticize this poll for discriminating against Filipinos.

Although attempts are made to protect this poll from voting by people who are not allowed to vote in the official American Idol process — which includes people from anywhere outside the United States — there is no way these demographics can match the official demographics.

The person criticizing the demographic mismatch points out that online betting produces more accurate numbers for who is likely to win.  Yet part of that accuracy comes from the fact that some of the people who bet on American Idol results watch this VoteFair poll as a way to help reveal the sentiments of American Idol fans.

This poll will continue to eliminate multiple votes from the same voter, and in the future will eliminate votes coming from outside the United States (including from Canada, India, the United Arab Emirates, etc.).  However, these poll results can never match the official voting because the official voting allows multiple votes from the same person.  As explained at the top of this page, this VoteFair poll does not attempt to predict the official results (although the commentary sometimes does make such predictions).  Instead it attempts to measure one kind of popularity, with the constraint that the people who vote here are self-chosen.

In spite of this demographic constraint, the results here tend to be reasonably representative.  Why?  Any time a contestant is highly ranked and there is a large fan base for a different contestant, often a forum that supports the different contestant encourages that contestant's fans to vote in this VoteFair poll.  If a contestant is unpopular, this same effect cannot occur because there are not enough fans to outvote the truly more popular contestant.

Thank you for your participation

With the voting over, and the final results hours away, here is a big thank you for your participation in this year's VoteFair American Idol poll!

Oops, votes from the Philippines getting through

Originally it was stated here that the votes in this VoteFair poll that were coming from the Philippines were being removed.  Indeed, some of them were removed.

Today it was discovered that other votes from the Philippines have been getting into the VoteFair poll results without being removed.  Those votes tend to mark Jessica Sanchez as their first choice, although some votes from the Philippines have ranked male singers in first place.

We apologize for any misleading implications that may have arisen due to these poll results being tainted by voters who are not qualified to vote in the official American Idol voting.  (Hopefully the official AI vote counters have not made the same mistake.)

Next season votes from outside the United States will be removed from this VoteFair poll using a more rigorous method.  Votes from outside the U.S. will not be identified at the time the votes are cast, but those foreign votes will be removed periodically as needed, and before the final result.

Although this advertising-free VoteFair American Idol poll is conducted for fun and to promote the idea of fairer government elections — without providing any income to cover the time invested in these polls — the fairness of the results here reflects on the also-free VoteFair ranking service, where fairness is the highest priority.  Therefore, the added financial cost of more rigorously identifying non-qualified voters will be undertaken.

Vote splitting along different dimensions

A sharp website visitor points out that one comment below refers to vote splitting between Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips, while another comment refers to vote splitting between Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez.

The top-three contestants share multiple characteristics.  For example, both Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips are male, so fans who prefer a male winner over a female winner would be split according to which of those fans prefer Phillip Phillips and which prefer Joshua Ledet.  Another characteristic is vocal quality (such as tone, vibrato control, pitch, etc.), and Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet have better vocal quality compared to Phillip Phillips.  Yet another characteristic is musicality, and Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez are stronger than Joshua Ledet in this characteristic.  And yet another characteristic is the appeal to pre-teen and teenage girls, and Phillip Phillips holds appeal as a good-looking guy, while Jessica Sanchez holds appeal as a role model for girls who dream of becoming similarly successful.

Vote splitting can occur "along" any of these different characteristics.  Plus, vote splitting can occur along several characteristics at the same time.  That's what's been going on this season.  In some weeks there was one characteristic or another that dominated for numerical reasons (such as when there were more singers of one gender than the other), but in other weeks vote splitting tended to be "along" other characteristics.

In past seasons the differences between the singers were more dramatic, and the differneces were easier to recognize.  This year the final few singers have defied the simple stereotypes that were easier to recognize in earlier seasons.

Looking at this concept more broadly, we live in a multi-dimensional world, yet we try to make sense of it by creating over-simplified one-dimensional views of it.  As a dramatic example of this tendency in the world of politics, we tend to categorize people as if they are at various positions along a single dimension that goes from "ultra-conservative" at one end to "extreme liberal" at the other end.  Yet the "99% movement" is calling attention to a more important dimension, namely how much money a person spends on election campaigns, which varies from "lots" coming from wealthy people like Mitt Romney (in the "1%" who are well-represented by Congress) to "none" which applies to most of us (in the "99%" who are frustrated with the choices Congress makes).

Votes from the Philippines affecting official results?

A website visitor says that Jessica Sanchez is getting lots of official votes from the Philippines, and that this gives her an advantage.

As stated below, people from the Philippines have tried to vote in this VoteFair American Idol poll.  (See above for more about this topic.)   As stated in last year's comments, hopefully the official American Idol vote counters are removing the votes from the Philippines.  Keep in mind that at the time when someone (anywhere) votes online, they might not be notified that their votes will be disqualified later.  This means that Philippine voters might be wasting their time without knowing it.

Finale commentary

In the finale, with only two singers, there is never any vote splitting.  (This is why U.S. elections use primary elections, namely to prevent vote splitting in the general election by having only two choices.)

Last week there was some vote splitting between the two best vocalists, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet, which means that in the finale Jessica Sanchez is likely to get more of the votes that were keeping Joshua Ledet in the competition.

Jessica Sanchez has been ranked number one every week in this VoteFair poll.  That has never happened before.  This is a strong indication of her popularity.  Keep in mind, as explained below, the only reason she ended up with the fewest votes one week was that too many voters assumed she was getting plenty of votes from other fans.

If Jessica Sanchez wins, it will more strongly prove how badly the American Idol voting method failed the week she received the fewest votes and was saved by the judges.  As said here many times, the choice with the fewest first-choice votes is not necessarily the least popular (except when there are only two choices).

If Phillip Phillips wins, it will reveal that pre-teen and teenage girls have a willingness to be exceedingly dedicated in their voting, and that they are taking advantage of the advantages of text-message voting.  A big advantage of text-message votes is that they do not have the bandwidth limitations (slowness) of phone votes (which involves dialing time for landlines, waiting-for-a-connection-time for cell phones, and listening to verify getting through).

As stated here before, there is fairness in not limiting the number of votes per fan because the show really wants to measure how many people will attend a singer's future concerts.  The show has much less concern for who "couch potatoes" prefer.

It is difficult to predict who will win the finale.  The finale is likely to be close because both contestants are so talented.  Perhaps the winner will be the singer whose fans do not assume he or she is "safe."  Yet Jessica Sanchez's acheivement of being top-ranked every week in this VoteFair poll is unparalleled, so the not-to-be-taken-too-serioulsly prediction here is that Jessica Sanchez will win.

In a broader sense, there will not be any losers among the top few contestants this year.  They are so much more talented than in previous years, plus they have gotten better even more quickly than many contestants in previous years.  So all of the top few have the opportunity to become great stars.

Top 3 results

Votes from pre-teen and teenage girls favor Phillip Phillips over Joshua Ledet, and that was enough to overcome the vocal weaknesses of Phillip Phillips, causing Joshua Ledet to be eliminated.

Top 3 commentary

The competition continues to be tight.  There might be some vote splitting between the two males, Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet, and that would give an advantage to Jessica Sanchez as the only female.  But none of them is safe, so yet again, next week's performances will heavily affect who is in the finale.

Top 4 results

Hollie Cavanagh was the weakest of the remaining singers, so her elimination was fair.  Yet she ranked in second place in this week's VoteFair poll.  As stated below, Hollie Cavanagh “has the potential to become a star who becomes as well-known as whoever wins this year.” In other words, she is very popular, but she is not as good a singer as the remaining three contestants, who are incredible singers and (especially regarding Phillip Phillips) artists.  If she learns to become comfortable doing some dance-like moving while singing, she will do quite well as a singer in concerts.  Yet she may have even more success if she ends up in the world of television where her intelligence and her pleasing personality would serve her quite well.

"Failed" and "just inventing" and "awesome"

Here are some recently received comments:

  • You failed in predicting the finale in american idol season 11.
  • [your] commentaries are like horoscope cold reading. You guys are just inventing. POOR!!! American Idol voting system works!
  • I love your weekly surveys for AI. Awesome.

Yes, the prediction here that Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine would be in the finale was mistaken.  The very premature elimination of Colton Dixon reveals how easily the American Idol voting system fails to produce fair results.  And this year's remaining contestants, more than in previous years, have kept getting dramatically better each week — except for Skylar Laine who remained about the same.

Yes, commentaries about voting methods can be difficult to understand.  The cities of Aspen Colorado and Burlington Vermont tried using "ranked ballots" and a counting method called "instant-runoff voting" and got such obviously unfair results that both cities switched back to single-mark ballots — without realizing that they were using the right kind of ballot but the wrong kind of counting.

Even election-method experts who have degrees in mathematics can get overwhelmed by the many different issues that complicate voting methods.  That's why the explanations here are confined to simple voting concepts such as "vote splitting," "strategic voting," and "vote concentration."  (If you do want to learn more, and are not easily overwhelmed, look at the comparison chart in Wikipedia's "Voting system" article [and click on the "down" triangle in the "ballot type" column to sort by ballot type].)

Fortunately lots of participants here understand the concepts explained here, and appreciate learning about voting.  And fortunately most people understand that making predictions that are 100% accurate is impossible, yet such predictions are still entertaining and enlightening.

Top 4 commentary

Now that there are an even number of males and females, and all are superb singers, it becomes difficult to predict who will be eliminated next week.

Top 5 results

Skylar Laine was the weakest of the remaining singers, but she will do quite well in the Country-music world.  When there are fewer contestants it becomes more difficult for a well-networked group of fans to keep a singer in the competition, especially when she is not as good a singer.  For comparison with last year's winner, Scotty McCreery, recall that he was not only a Country-music singer and very likeable, but he also was a great singer, plus he had the support of pre-teen and teen females who prefer a male winner.

Top 6 result, and top 5 commentary

As typically happens after a big surprise elimination (although last week was an exception), voting for a weaker singer is reduced while voting for the so-called "safe" singers increases, and that's what finally happened to Elise Testone. The clear pattern is that fans want to feel connected to a singer's personality (during both singing and talking), and Elise Testone long ago adopted a thick layer of protection (personality-wise), and that limits her appeal compared to singers who, as Jennifer Lopez says, share their vulnerability.  Joshua Ledet, and to a lessor extent Hollie Cavanagh and Jessica Sanchez, also hold back on their level of relaxation (which is certainly difficult to do while being watched by millions of people), but it's not as noticeable as it was for Elise Testone.

Skylar Laine ending up in the bottom three indicates that Country-music fans are not as excited about her as would happen if she were a greater singer (in addition to being a great performer, which she is).  This result might increase the voting of Country-music fans next week, but it suggests that she might not end up in the finale.

Usually it's clear by now who will end up in the finale, but with Colton Dixon gone and Skylar Laine not delivering great performances recently, and with additional uncertainties caused by the official voting method, the finale contestants are now difficult to predict.  Yet the odds are in favor of a female being eliminated this week simply because there are more females (3) than males (2), although this vote-splitting effect is not as strong as last week when there were four females and two males.

Prior to removing duplicate votes on Tuesday, Hollie Cavanagh was gaining popularity in this poll's ranking, but after removing those duplicates she is at the bottom in terms of popularity.  Yet she has a disproportionate level of first-choice votes, which suggests that she has lots of dedicated fans, but that the fans of other singers are not as enthusiastic about her (or regard her as a threat to their favorite).

Vote splitting is like out-swimming a shark

To better understand vote splitting — and what happened last week — consider a scenario in which a group of swimmers are trying to out-swim a hypothetically slow-moving shark.  To avoid being eaten, it is not necessary to be the fastest swimmer.  It is only necessary to swim faster than the slowest swimmer.

In a similar way, the American Idol contestants can avoid being eliminated simply by singing and performing better than the weakest contestant.  That's because avoiding elimination only requires getting more votes than the contestant who has the fewest votes.

Going back to the out-swimming-a-shark analogy, suppose that voters are represented by people in a boat who are shouting the names of the swimmers.  And suppose that the speed of each swimmer is determined by how often they hear their name being shouted.  The people in the boat can shout only one name at a time, so helping more than one favorite swimmer requires alternating which name they are shouting.  When it becomes clear which swimmers are the slowest, and are lagging behind the other swimmers, the shouters stop wasting their shouts on the swimmers who are farthest ahead, and instead the shouters choose which swimmers to support according to which swimmers are the slowest.

In a similar (yet simplfied) way, American Idol fans can only vote for one contestant at a time, and most fans have more than one favorite, so they must choose how to distribute their votes.  Unlike in the swimming analogy, we don't know who else is getting the most votes that week.  Naturally we assume that the contestants who were safe last week are probably safe this week.  Alas, if too many people make this assumption, the results can be disastrous.  That is what happened this past week when Colton Dixon was eliminated.

Fortunately there is a simple solution.  The show's producers should add a rule that a singer cannot be eliminated if that singer has never been in the bottom three, and if there is another singer in the bottom three who has been there before.  If this rule had been in effect last week, either Elise Testone or Hollie Cavanagh — whichever had the fewer votes last week — would have been eliminated instead of Colton Dixon. For additional details about this suggested rule, please see (in last year's comments) a recommended new rule to improve fairness.

Top 7 result, the Colton surprise

Apparently lots of fans thought that Colton Dixon was safe.  With the weak singers long gone, only the very best singers remain, and that means that no one is safe.

For the second week in a row, lots of fans voted strategically, which means they voted according to who they thought needed their votes.  Notice that because the show uses an unfair voting method, we can't just vote for our favorite — because then a second-favorite (like Jessica Sanchez last week) ends up being eliminated too early — and we can't shift our votes too much toward our second-favorite because then our favorite (like Colton Dixon this week) ends up in the bottom three, or even, as happened this week, at the complete bottom.

Last week's prediction of Colton Dixon being in the finale assumed that previous voting patterns continued, but they didn't.  So, the updated prediction is that Phillip Phillips and Skylar Laine will be the two contestants in the finale. 

The elimination of Colton Dixon ends the vote splitting that was happening between him and Phillip Phillips, and that change will concentrate more votes on Phillip Phillips.  However, Phillip Phillips is not safe.  And he is less likely than Colton Dixon to win over Skylar Laine, who is supported by well-networked Country-music fans.

It is rare that a possible winner of American Idol is eliminated this early.  It happened to Jenifer Hudson in Season 3, and for the same reason, namely vote splitting combined with fans assuming she was safe.  It has happened again with the very early elimination of Colton Dixon.  Is he the best singer?  No.  But he is a star, and a great entertainer, and apparently a genuinely nice guy.  He too can, if he chooses, prove what Jennifer Hudson did, that the voting method used on American Idol is flawed.

If you want the craziness of first-choice voting to end on American Idol, and you realize that the same craziness accounts for why Congress is filled with politicians who fail to represent the majority of voters, please take a look at the proposed federal law to ban single-mark ballots from Congressional elections at The 99 Declaration, and please “Like” it on Facebook or “sign” the proposal by marking the “must-include” and “relevant” and “approve” check boxes.  Ending unfair voting in U.S. governmental elections will solve lots of problems, and at this rate that change might happen before American Idol adopts fairer voting methods.

Finale prediction: Colton and Skyler

Based on last week's surprise results, it seems likely that Colton Dixon and Skylar Laine will be the two contestants in the finale.  Here are the factors that make this scenario likely:

  • Presumably Hollie Cavanagh was at the bottom of last week's top four.  This is consistent with which contestants have been in the bottom three lately.  This means that Colton Dixon, Phillip Phillips, and Skylar Laine are the current top three.
  • The fact that Skylar Laine was in the top three last week indicates that Country-music fans have begun their heavy well-networked voting.  As often explained here, Country-music fans mostly don't watch the show, but their AT&T cell-phone service automatically notifies them when voting starts, and this service lists which number to call for each singer.  (As explained last year, this service is unfair to the other advertisers, such as Ford, who financially support the TV show because their advertisements are not seen by those voters.)  In addition it is easy for a few Country-music fans to watch the show to get Skyler's phone number, and then call their fellow Country-music fans with this information (along with a reminder to start dialing), which is a reality-show version of a traditional "telephone tree."
  • Apparently young (pre-teen and teenage) girls have learned from previous seasons not to assume that anyone is safe, and that is what put Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips into the top three.
  • The other male, Joshua Ledet, was in the bottom three, so he is not likely to last much longer.  Currently he is benefiting from the vote splitting among the female singers.
  • That leaves Jessica Sanchez, Elise Testone, and Hollie Cavanagh splitting the first-choice votes of the remaining voters.  Elise Testone and Hollie Cavanagh are likely to be eliminated sooner than Jessica Sanchez because last week's shocking results will boost the votes for Jessica Sanchez — because she is clearly the best female singer.
  • The competition between Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips, especially for the young-girl vote, will get resolved later, probably at the top-three performance when Skylar Laine will get concentrated votes from Country-music fans while votes are split between Colton Dixon and Phillip PhillipsPhillip Phillips produces great music, but he lacks the emotional range that Colton Dixon has put into his songs, and typically emotional appeal wins over ear appeal.  The following section clarifies how vote splitting works, and it especially applies in the top-three week.
  • The finale results will reveal whether young girls or Country-music fans provide the larger number of votes.

    (As always, this prediction assumes there are no surprisingly good or bad performances, that no one gets sick, etc.)

    Vote splitting done with fingers

    Here is an explanation of vote splitting that can be done by counting on fingers.  If there are nine voters, and four of these voters vote for the "mainstream" choice (singer, candidate, or whatever), and the other five voters vote for an "alternate" choice, the alternate choice wins with more than half the votes.  But if a second alternate choice is added, and only first-choice information is collected, and if the "alternate" votes are split into three votes for one alternate choice and two votes for the other, the mainstream choice wins, but with less than half the votes.

    As a clarification (particularly for new readers), strategic voting (explained in the next section) is used to overcome the unfairness of vote splitting.  The judges fail to understand this concept when they say "vote for your favorite."  If people just vote for their favorite, without considering their second-favorite (and maybe third-favorite) singer, then the elimination order will not be correct.  The only way for the elimination sequence to be correct based on voters voting sincerely (rather than strategically) is for the show to use a fairer voting method.

    Top 7 result, the Jessica surprise

    “Strategic voting” was the cause of this week's very surprising result of Jessica Sanchez ending up with the fewest votes.

    You are already familiar with strategic voting in U.S. general elections.  You strategically choose not to vote for any third-party candidates because you know that voting for a third-party candidate who cannot win just makes it easier for your least-favorite major-party candidate to win.  This need for strategic voting occurs because you can only vote for a single candidate, which is the recipe that makes vote splitting possible.

    This week too many people assumed that Jessica Sanchez was getting plenty of votes from other voters.  And all of us have more than one favorite, so we either spread our votes among our favorites, or we strategically vote for one favorite who we think needs our votes the most.

    This week most people knew that both Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone needed extra votes to prevent them from being eliminated, but too many voters assumed that Jessica Sanchez did not need their votes.  And non-Country-music fans may not have realized that Skylar Laine is probably receiving plenty of votes from Country-music fans.  The result was four-way vote splitting among Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone and Skylar Laine and Jessica Sanchez.

    In contrast, Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips were safe because the voters who want a male to win were concentrating their votes on only those two singers, and because past experiences have taught them not to assume that anyone is safe.  Notice that vote concentration is a voting strategy, and it is the opposite of accidental vote splitting.

    Once again vote splitting has caused a dramatically surprising result.  But if you have been following the commentary here at, then you know that vote splitting is more common, and more important, than most people realize.  And you can better appreciate the recommendations below for the judges not being tempted to use their “judges' save” prematurely.  Specifically the purpose of the judges' save is to compensate for huge surprises that have, in the past (and again this week), arisen from the show's use of a primitive voting method, not as a prize to express appreciation for someone who the judges like, but who the voters do not like as much.

    The important voting concept that most people fail to understand is that the person who gets the “most” votes is not necessarily the most popular.  Only when a person gets more than half the votes can we be sure that the person is really the most popular, but that is unlikely to happen when there are more than two main choices.  This distinction between getting the “most” votes and getting a “majority” of votes is extremely important in governmental elections, yet few people seem to notice this unfairness, even when the winner of a primary election fails to receive a majority of votes.

    This important distinction is why the U.S. Constitution specifies that the President of the United States must receive a majority of electoral votes, not just the most electoral votes.  And this distinction is failing to be understood by the people who advocate that getting the “most” popular votes is all that is needed to reform Presidential elections.

    In the official American Idol voting results, there is a similar flaw.  The show assumes that the singer with the fewest votes is the least popular.  This assumption is mistaken.  Obviously Jessica Sanchez is not the least popular even though she received the fewest votes.  When there are seven strong choices and very few voters are ready to give up on their favorite (or favorites), vote splitting is highly likely, and it easily leads to results that are very different than what the voters would choose if they were allowed to fully express their preferences.

    Although the early elimination of a great American Idol singer would seem to be disastrous, the much bigger disaster is a similar unfairness going on in U.S. governmental elections.  If you now understand how fatally flawed U.S. governmental elections are, please visit one of these two online resources for more information about what you can do: the Declaration of Election-Method Reform Advocates or a Proposed federal law that would ban single-mark ballots from Congressional elections.

    Top 7 performance commentary

    Based on this week's performances, Hollie Cavanagh is the most vulnerable.  And, based on her choice of an intellectual song instead of an emotional song, she still lacks an understanding of how to infuse her performances with emotional (rather than intellectual) passion (as explained below).  Elise Testone and Joshua Ledet are the other two singers likely to be in the bottom three (for the reasons already explained).  The judges are likely to use their save if anyone other than Hollie Cavanagh gets the fewest (first-choice) votes — not that they should use it, because it would be wiser to wait to see if it's really needed for someone who could actually win.

    Top 7 commentary

    Now there are no weak singers remaining. 

    Jessica Sanchez has been the top-ranked singer every week in this VoteFair poll, so she is the most likely winner.  However, in the finale there won't be any vote splitting as there is now, so the other singer in the finale also has a chance of winning.

    The most likely singer to also be in the finale is either Colton Dixon (somewhat likely) or Skylar Laine (because of support from well-networked Country-music fans) or maybe Phillip Phillips.  In contrast, Elise Testone (because she has only shown her un-self-conscious side in one of her performances) and Joshua Ledet (for a similar lack of "connection" outside of performances) probably won't be in the finale.

    That leaves Hollie Cavanagh whose chances depend on her upcoming performances.  She just found out, as Heejun Han did some weeks ago, that touring the entire stage leaves the singer short of breath.  As the judges said, when a singer tries something new they need to become comfortable with that newness during practice so that during the performance it comes naturally.  Elise Testone discovered this concept this past week when she tried to adopt the feeling of the song, and made the mistake of letting the feeling take over her vocal tract (and apparently her conscious mind, which needs to be available for lots of other processing).

    There are now more females than males, and the three remaining males are quite popular, so that makes it likely that at least two females will be in this week's bottom three.

    If anyone besides Elise Testone ends up with the fewest (first-choice) votes this week, the judges probably should use their save.  If the judges were to save Elise Testone, she would probably be eliminated the following week (or the week after) because she has been bumping along at the bottom for weeks.  When the judges' save is used, that will put the show back on schedule after having been thrown off-schedule by the disqualification of Jermaine Jones, so it becomes increasingly likely to be used.  Ideally it should be saved for a surprise result, and then if it's not needed, it should be used the last week it's available.

    Top 8 results

    No surprise this week.

    In this VoteFair poll there continue to be ballot-stuffing attempts coming from the Philipines.  It's typical that states — and nations — that have higher levels of corruption tend to be the source of more ballot-stuffing attempts in this VoteFair poll.  The Philipines-based attempts split the votes among several popular singers (instead of concentrating support on a single unpopular singer), and VoteFair ranking is resistant to such effects (unlike the plurality voting used in governmental elections), so the mid-week ranking results were not dramatically affected.

    Rick Santorum as Presidential candidate, and Newt Gingrich as VP candidate?

    Although Mitt Romney was getting more votes than either Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, for awhile the number of delegates between Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich exceeded the number of delegates won by Mitt Romney, and this was significant.  Why?  At the upcoming Republican Presidential convention, as in all well-designed voting methods, a majority of votes is the winning criteria, so the two "losers" could have teamed up to win over Mitt Romney.  Later, that possibility ended because voters marked their ballot for the frontrunner, Mitt Romney, and he gained a majority of delegates.  If the teaming-up possibility seems unlikely, it's worth reading the Wikipedia article about "Vote splitting" and understanding the difference between getting "the most" (delegate) votes (which Mitt Romney has) versus getting a "majority" of (delegate) votes (which, for awhile, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich had between the two of them).

    Top 8 commentary

    Hollie Cavanagh ended up in the bottom three partly because she lacks "emotional maturity" in terms of being able to connect with the lyrics of her songs, which other contestants were better able to do last week.  For clarification, that connection involves learning how to relate "surface" emotions (such as sorrow, love, pride/prowess, guilt, happiness, suffering, frustration, etc.) with core emotions (namely sadness, fear, anger, hurt, and joy).  Also she does not "fill" the stage, partly because her extra-high heels limit her movement on stage.  Fortunately, although she is at risk for going home next week, she has not yet peaked as a performer and she has the potential to become a star who becomes as well-known as whoever wins this year.

    In contrast, DeAndre Brackensick does not have the same potential.  His falsetto is enjoyable to hear in limited doses, but relatively few people would be interested in hearing that for an entire concert.

    The first-choice-only counts in the VoteFair poll suggest that Skylar Laine will be in the bottom three again this week, but Country-music fans don't vote in this poll (partly because many of them vote without watching the TV show), whereas they do vote in the official results, so she is unlikely to be in the bottom three this week.

    Another group that overwhelms the official voting yet is underrepresented in this VoteFair poll is preteen and teenage girls.  Currently they (excluding the ones who are Country-music fans) are likely to be splitting their votes among Jessica Sanchez, Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon, Hollie Cavanagh, and DeAndre Brackensick.

    Joshua Ledet is a superb singer, but his personality does not come across as entertaining, nor does he have (for lack of a better word) "charisma."

    Based on all the factors above, plus the VoteFair poll results, and if there are no significant surprises in this week's performances, and if voters don't dramatically change their voting patterns (such as by assuming that anyone is safe), the singers who seem most likely to end up in the bottom three are DeAndre Brackensick, Joshua Ledet, and either Elise Testone or Hollie Cavanagh.

    Top 9 results

    Now that Skylar Laine has ended up in the bottom 3, she is likely to benefit from a concentration of votes from Country-music fans.  It remains to be seen whether Country-music fans will also support British-accented Hollie Cavanagh after she revealed that her idol is Country-music star (and former American Idol winner) Carrie Underwood.

    Here is a "thank you" to Heejun Han for entertaining us!  He has the talent (intelligence, wit, and a kind personality) to become a star (especially in the television world where good-natured ad-lib humor is appreciated), so hopefully we will see more of him as an all-around entertainer (and perhaps eventually as a TV-show host).

    Top 9 superb performances

    This week's superb performances from almost all the contestants makes it very difficult to predict who will be at the bottom.  In particular, Elise Testone shared her fun side, and Heejun Han shared his serious side, so they aren't as vulnerable as they were.

    Fortunately the judges can protect Phillip Phillips and Colton Dixon and Hollie Cavanagh from a premature elimination (keeping in mind that Jessica Sanchez isn't going to need it unless too many people assume she is safe), but if the judges save anyone else this week then they won't be able to protect against even bigger "surprise" results that can easily arise from using unfair first-choice-only voting.  (If the judges "save their save" for now, they can always use it the last week it's available.)

    Top 9 commentary

    Colton Dixon and Phillip Phillips are continuing to split the votes of fans who want a (young) good-looking (white) guy to win.

    Although there seems to be consensus that DeAndre Brackensick and Heejun Han and Elise Testone are the three weakest (vote-wise) singers, their order of elimination would be difficult to predict because they are at about the same level of "actual" popularity.  (As explained below, but using different words, Elise Testone smiles with her mouth but not with her eyes, so she is not attracting as many dedicated fans as she supposedly "deserves" because of her singing talent.)

    Fortunately the judges are realizing that they need to hold off before seriously considering the use of their save.  They are likely to need it in a few weeks.  And they are likely to use it.  Why?  The producers need to compensate for the unexpected loss of two singers in one week (when Jermaine Jones was disqualified).  Using the judges' save will put the show back on schedule.

    Top 10 results

    No surprises this week, except that Elise Testone stayed out of the bottom 3 because of her better-than-usual performance.

    Top 10 commentary

    There could be some wild surprises this week if the first-choice preferences expressed in this VoteFair poll are representative of the official voting.  Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cavanagh are the clear front-runners.  But after that, although VoteFair ranking correctly reveals the level of popularity for the remaining singers, the first-choice votes are very close for all the other contestants.  In other words, all the other singers, from Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet near the top (after Jessica and Hollie), down to Erika Van Pelt, DeAndre Brackensick, and Heejun Han at the bottom, have similar numbers of first-choice votes.

    Translation: If you have a favorite in addition to (or other than) Jessica or Hollie, you need to vote for them this week!

    About the judges' save

    Let's hope the judges don't waste their "save" this year like they did last year.  Because of the unfairness of first-choice-only voting, the judges may need to save Joshua Ledet or Colton Dixon, who are top-ranked singers, but who may not get the votes they deserve.  (Colton Dixon would not be vulnerable if Phillip Phillips were not in the competition.)

    Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cavanagh and Phillip Phillips probably won't need to be saved because they are likely winners.  Skylar Laine won't need it because country-music fans will increase their voting if she ends up in the bottom 3.

    The judges might be tempted to save Elise Testone, but that would greatly increase the risk of prematurely losing one of the above-mentioned better — and more popular — singers.  Clarification: Elise Testone and her fans may think that she is being underappreciated because she is "older," but that's not what's going on; she lacks the "uplifting spirit" (for lack of better words) that the more popular singers (aside from Jessica Sanchez who outsings Elise) have.  As the judges say, it's about the "total package."

    More ballot stuffing from the Philipines

    This week, as happened last year early in the competition, there were lots of ballot-stuffing attempts coming from the Philipines.

    Yes, duplicate votes from the same voter (in any location) do get removed before calculating the final results.

    Top 12/11 results

    With Jermaine Jones being kicked out for not revealing outstanding criminal warrants, and with Shannon Magrane being one of several singers who had a weak performance this week, she became more vulnerable than predicted below.  The fact that she was the pick of the "Vote For The Worst" website reveals the declining influence of that website (which does not always pick the worst singer).

    Top 12 commentary

    This week's poll, which combines both genders, reveals that Jessica Sanchez and Hollie Cavanagh are the most popular singers, ahead of Phillip Phillips, Skylar Laine, and Colton Dixon

    It looks like the most likely singer to go home is either Jermaine Jones, Elise Testone, or Erika Van Pelt.  If there is a surprise elimination, it would be Joshua Ledet who, according to this poll, does not have lots of (first-choice) fans, even though he is ranked higher than the above three least-popular singers.

    Shannon Magrane is second from the bottom in this poll, but this week she is being promoted by the "Vote For The Worst" website (which has some effect when there are still lots of singers), plus she appeals to fans who want a young person to win (which involves a younger demographic than the fans who vote here), so she is not likely to go home this week.  (As always, if a singer's performance is worse than usual, that change can easily change the results.)

    DeAndre Brackensick and Heejun Han are ranked in the lower half, but they have more first-choice fans, and that is what matters for the official results.

    Top 13 results

    Although some people regard this week's decision as unfair because it involved the judges making a decision that took some control out of the hands of the voters, remember that the show uses an unfair method of vote counting, and that counting method is especially unfair when there are still so many contestants, so this particular involvement of the judges helped to protect against a surprise elimination.

    Remember that last year there were accusations of gender bias when Pia Toscano was eliminated unexpectedly early.  The executives might have been wanting to prevent gender bias (and perceptions of gender bias) this year, and the choice to allow the judges to choose between the bottom-ranked male and the bottom-ranked female was reasonable.

    As a reminder, there was no gender bias last year.  It just so happened that the popularity of the singers did not alternate between male and female, and instead there were groupings of males and groupings of females at the different popularity-ranking levels.  This year we don't yet know how the males and females compare with one another.  This coming week's poll results here (now that the genders are combined) will reveal this comparison.

    Notice that there has been no mention of a "judge's save" rule this year.  Few people complained about that rule, and this week's involvement of the judges is not much different.  Actually it's fairer.  And of course the judges chose the wrong time to use last year's judge's save, so apparently the executives are finding better ways to deal with the unfairness of their primitive vote-counting methods.

    Top 13 commentary

    Looking ahead, Skylar Laine will get the votes of the many country-music fans who vote — but who don't watch the show — and so she has a good chance of winning this year, even though she isn't the best singer.  However, if the teen and pre-teen voters can concentrate their votes on a single choice and out-text the country-music voters, then they can cause a different singer to win.  (More about this issue will be written later.)

    Top 25 results

    Luckily the 10 singers who got the most votes were the most popular, which means that vote splitting didn't happen, and concentrated votes for a weak singer didn't happen.

    The poll rankings changed slightly (between the pre-singing results and the first-performance results) for some contestants.  The pressure of a huge audience was invigorating for some singers and stressful for others.

    Top 25 commentary

    There are likely to be some surprises this week.  Too many singers are being cut the first week, without allowing time for fans to talk with friends and better decide who are the favorites.  We are limited to first-choice-only votes, so we have to vote strategically (to avoid vote splitting) to get fair results, but we haven't yet seen who needs our votes the most.

    This mistake won't affect who wins, but it may result in a top ten that includes one or two weak contestants, and that excludes (unless the producers make adjustments) one or two more-deserving singers.


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