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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 16, season 16 poll, cross-season poll through season 15, season 15 poll, cross-season poll through season 14, season 14 poll, cross-season poll through season 13, season 13 poll, 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 cross-season poll, seasons 1 through 16, is now open!

Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 16

VoteFair Ballot

Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 16

(Ballot is now hosted at NewsHereNow)

 

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Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 16

The cross-season poll for seasons 1 through 16 is now open!

If your favorite singer is not in this poll it's because that singer did not rank high enough in earlier polls.

The ballot has room for only 12 choices.  LaPorsha Renae from season 15 was just popular enough to justify remaining in this cross-season poll, which left three spots open for this season's most-popular singers.

Note that Michael J. Woodard is in the poll, and Gabby Barrett is not in the poll.  Why?  Because in earlier weeks Michael was consistently ranked as more popular than Gabby.  Specifically this means that the fans whose first choice was Maddie, Caleb, Catie, Jurnee, Cade, Dennis, etc. more often ranked Michael above Gabby (compared to ranking Gabby above Michael).  For more details about Michael's early elimination, please scroll down to the following heading: Michael's elimination demonstrates pairwise popularity versus single-mark "popularity"

Season 16 poll

Final results, top 3

Congratulations Maddie! Based on the results here, she deserved to win.  With three choices, vote splitting could have happened easily.  Fortunately some recent developments led to the pairwise most-popular singer winning.

Based on 107 ballots, after having removed ballots cast from outside the United States, here are the popularity rankings:

  1. Most popular: Maddie Poppe
  2. Second-most popular: Gabby Barrett
  3. Third-most popular: Caleb Lee Hutchinson
  1. Most popular: Ryan Seacrest
  2. Second-most popular: Katy Perry
  3. Third-most popular: Lionel Richie
  4. Fourth-most popular: Luke Bryan

For comparison purposes, here are the traditional (single-mark) vote counts converted into percentages: Maddie Poppe at 57%, Gabby Barrett at 21%, Caleb Lee Hutchinson at 19%, Ryan Seacrest at 36%, Katy Perry at 21%, Lionel Richie at 16%, Luke Bryan at 15%.

As a clarification, after most of the above votes were cast, social media focused attention on comments from Gabby, and about Gabby, regarding her personality when the cameras were not on her. Those shifts, plus flawed performances at the finale, and a "single" that got lots of dislikes, account for why she ended up in third place in spite of here (before those events) being ranked as second-most popular.

As another clarification, in the finale, Caleb started the show with a significant mistake (starting too early, stopping, then starting again), and that probably reduced his vote count compared to what would have happened if he had not made that mistake.

In contrast, in the finale, Maddie did not make any apparent mistakes.

VoteFair prediction: Least-popular Caleb will win

Currently Caleb is the least-popular singer in the VoteFair American Idol poll, yet Caleb is likely to win. Here are the most important reasons why he is likely to win:

  • Lots of heavy voting is done by long-time American Idol fans who are now (roughly) middle-aged women who prefer a male winner.
  • Caleb will get lots of votes from country-western music fans who network with each other and remind each other to vote, even though most country-western-music fans do not watch the show. (Yes, Gabby might somewhat benefit from this effect, but probably not enough to win.)
  • Fans who prefer a female winner will be splitting their votes between Maddie and Gabby.

Let's focus on the third reason because the first two reasons have been covered in previous VoteFair commentary postings.

Voting in the "finale" round is different from previous voting rounds. Why? Because at this point most fans of American Idol vote for just one singer, and they give zero, or near-zero, votes to their second-favorite singer. This is a shift from previous weeks when the focus was on whether the voter approves or disapproves of each singer.

Of course we never know what the official vote counts are, yet it's easy to imagine that the official vote counts will look something like this:

  • Caleb: 35 percent
  • Gabby: 33 percent
  • Maddie: 32 percent

Notice that this would mean 65 percent of the voters would prefer a female to win, yet their votes are split between the two remaining female singers. (These numbers assume that voters do not give any votes to their second choice.) In other words, "vote splitting" is a strong effect in the final week's voting.

If you don't already know about "vote splitting," please look it up in Wikipedia. It's important to understand vote splitting because it accounts for the surprise result in the 2016 Republican presidential primary election. In that case, where there were 17 candidates, vote splitting among the 16 non-winning candidates made it easy for the winning candidate to get more votes than any one of the other candidates.

In theory, American Idol's use of "score voting" allows voters to avoid vote splitting — but only if voters are willing to give some votes to a voter's second-favorite choice. Yet even I, who clearly understand the mathematics behind vote splitting, will find it difficult to give too many votes to my second choice in this American Idol contest, where an unfair outcome won't hurt me. Politics is different because those outcomes can hurt me.

Fortunately, regardless of who wins this year, all three singers will become very successful musicians, limited only by the effort they put into their music careers — and, for the winner, limited by the oppressive American Idol contract.

Michael's elimination demonstrates pairwise popularity versus single-mark "popularity"

If you were saddened by Michael's elimination from American Idol, you will appreciate understanding why the elimination happened. Significantly the same explanation also explains the surprise result of the 2016 Republican presidential primary election.

In the VoteFair American Idol poll, where 80 people fully ranked all the singers, Michael was second-most popular. That implies he should have made it into the top 3.

However, if we only consider the first-most favorite singer of those 80 people, we see that Michael was the first choice of only 23 percent, which is close to the 21 percent for Gabby, and not comfortably far from the 13 percent for Caleb. (For "give-me-the-data" readers, Maddie got 31 percent, and Cade got 8 percent.)

Understanding what this means involves understanding "pairwise" comparisons. Specifically, if fans were asked "Do you prefer Michael or Gabby more?" it's likely that more than half the fans would say Michael. However, these people include lots of people who prefer Maddie or Caleb or Cade as their first choice.

These pairwise comparisons are done automatically in your mind when you rank all the choices from most popular to least popular. In other words, if you rank the singers as first, Maddie, second, Michael, third, Gabby, fourth, Caleb, and fifth, Cade, then you have revealed that you prefer Michael over Gabby, Michael over Caleb, Michael over Cade, Gabby over Caleb, Gabby over Cade, Caleb over Cade, and (for brevity) Maddie over each of the other singers. All this extra information is supplied to the VoteFair ranking software, and that's partly why the VoteFair results are so much more meaningful than only asking for a voter's first choice.

To further understand pairwise comparisons, consider the 2016 Republican presidential primary election. It involved 17 candidates! In this situation if we only consider each voter's first choice (which is officially what we did), then it's not too difficult for one candidate to get more of these first-choice-only votes compared to each of the other candidates. That's all it took to win that contest. But if voters had been able to fully rank all the candidates, then pairwise comparisons could have been done, and those pairwise comparisons would have correctly revealed who was actually most popular. What we do know from the single-mark ballots (taking into account that the non-winning candidates would have gotten more votes if they had not dropped out before the election was over) is that roughly around 70 percent of the Republican(!) voters wanted someone other than the winner.

Hopefully you now understand that if each person voting only marks a single choice, the numbers do not really reveal actual popularity. Yet in politics and in American Idol voting we do not count votes correctly, in ways that reveal true popularity.

This is why winners and losers in primitive-method voting contests are not necessarily the most popular or least popular. Specifically, the person who gets the most single-mark votes is not necessarily the most popular, and the person who gets the fewest single-mark votes is not necessarily the least popular. For fair results, we need to look deeper, beneath the first-choice-only votes.

Top 5 final results

Based on 80 ballots, here are the popularity rankings for singers: The most popular singer is Maddie Poppe. The second-most popular singer is Michael J. Woodard. The third-most popular singer is Gabby Barrett. The fourth-most popular singer is Caleb Lee Hutchinson. The fifth-most popular singer is Cade Foehner. •••• Based on 80 ballots, here are the popularity rankings for judges/host: The most popular judge/host is Ryan Seacrest. The second-most popular judge/host is Luke Bryan. The third-most popular judge/host is a tie between Lionel Richie and Katy Perry. •••• For comparison purposes, here are the traditional (single-mark) vote counts converted into percentages: Maddie Poppe at 31%, Michael J. Woodard at 23%, Gabby Barrett at 21%, Caleb Lee Hutchinson at 13%, Cade Foehner at 8%, Ryan Seacrest at 31%, Luke Bryan at 23%, Lionel Richie at 10%, Katy Perry at 24%.

Now on Reddit

I now participate in the "americanidol" subreddit within Reddit.com — under the username CPsolver — so if you have any voting-related questions, please reply to one of my latest (about two per week) posts there.

From top 7 to top 5, commentary including power-voting insights

Catie's double mistake — of forgetting song lyrics and letting that mistake affect the rest of her performance and on-stage time — easily justified her elimination.  Unfortunately the need for most of us to vote during the earlier part of the show meant that we couldn't easily reduce our vote count for her.  Fortunately the official vote counters apparently know enough to not blindly use the "official" vote counts, and instead also take into account what was presumably the trend of withdrawing votes from Catie following her double mistake.  If you were a fan of hers, you can look forward to seeing more of her because she will get lots of jobs in the entertainment industry.  For reference, up until her blooper moment, Catie was third-most popular in the VoteFair American Idol poll.

Finally, this week, the sound levels were controlled by a competent sound engineer.  This improvement allowed us to clearly hear the singers — and clearly hear Catie's mistake.  In prior weeks the sound levels were so bad that some people thought the performers might be lip-synching to a studio-recorded version.

Jurnee's elimination was no surprise.  In the VoteFair poll she was ranked at the bottom (in the final results) or near the bottom (earlier in the week).  Her elimination demonstrates why the judges keep reminding the contestants to connect with the audience.

Cade has been at or near the bottom of the VoteFair poll, so why was he not elimnated?  And Caleb has been near the bottom of the VoteFair poll, so why was he not eliminated?  This brings us to the concept of "power voting."

In the earlier years of American Idol, lots and lots of women around the age of 30 to 40 (roughly) dominated the official voting by non-stop dialing phone votes (which back then involved hearing the contestant's voice say "thank you" for each vote).  When text-message voting was added, many of these women spent time or money texting votes in ways that amplified their influence.  That's why good-looking white males often won the contest.  Now that each phone number is limited to just 10 votes (per contestant), presumably many of these women vote for Cade and Caleb using multiple email accounts.

For anyone who might not know, it's easy for someone to have lots of different email accounts.  At the basic level, a person can get one or more Gmail accounts and one or more Yahoo accounts and also use their ISP (internet-service-provider) email account.  Plus they can use one or more Facebook accounts.  The voting rules allow each of these email addresses and identities to be used with both the American Idol app and the American Idol website, which doubles the influence of anyone who takes the time to do such power voting.  That's why simply counting Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) followers does not indicate much about official vote counts.

The other "power voting" method is to recruit other people to vote for your favorite.  This is why Country-Western music singers, such as Caleb (and perhaps wannabe Gabby), get lots and lots of official votes, yet don't have a correspondingly high number of social-media followers, and don't get high votes in the VoteFair poll.  Specifically some Country-Western music fans watch American Idol and then, either online or at CW music events, tell other CW music fans to "text the number whatever to line whatever on Sunday night between 5 and 6 o'clock."  This is yet another reason that counting each contestant's fans online does not reveal the official vote counts.

Some people think that power voting is "unfair," but remember that the goal is not to identify who is the best singer.  Instead the show's goal is to identify who can fill the most seats in a concert tour, which in turn reveals who can best promote other money-based activities — such as taking a trip to Disneyland or Disney World.

Finally we arrive at an insight about which three contestants would be "best" in the finale from the perspective of the people running the show.  In my opinion the "producers" (using the term loosly) would like Maddie and Gabby and Caleb to be in the top three.

Before you get upset about Michael perhaps "losing out" in spite of being the best musical artist, consider that he will have a fabulous musical career, and it will be better off without being under the thumb of people who want to mold him to become basically another Disney character.  To put this into perspective, I bought Kelly Clarkson's first music album and I was disappointed by the producers "sweetening" the background music and drowning out her voice; she sounded much better during the live shows.

And before you get upset about the possiblity of Cade not being in the top three, consider that he prefers rock music and Disney corporation (which owns ABC) caters to a clearly non-rock-music demographic.  (Personally rock music is my favorite genre, so I very much like his music.)  Also, based on something I read online (which means it may not be true, yet it seems to fit his personality), Cade is not necessarily committed to a career in music.  That would defeat the point of the show, which is to create a music star.

The Disney corporation would be happiest if either Maddie or Gabby won because they could dress her up like they do with Katy Perry.  If Caleb won, they would also be happy because he can be portrayed as the kind of "good" boy they like to feature in their movies.  And that leaves Michael free to be the great musical artist he is likely to become, and it leaves Cade free to do whatever he wants with his notoriety and "good looks."  And now Catie is free to become a famous TV celebrity or whatever she wants to do with her excellent ability to connect with audiences who like her quirkiness.

Final results for the top-7 VoteFair poll

Based on 98 ballots, here are the popularity rankings for the top-7 week:
The most popular singer is Maddie Poppe.
The second-most popular singer is Michael J. Woodard.
The third-most popular singer is Catie Turner.
The fourth-most popular singer is Gabby Barrett.
The fifth-most popular singer is Caleb Lee Hutchinson.
The sixth-most popular singer is Cade Foehner.
The seventh-most popular singer is Jurnee.

From top 10 to top 7: Pulling winners from the wreckage

Ryan Seacrest's announcement about a "difference of point one nine percent" (if I recall the number correctly) reveals that all the different voting methods were fully saturated!  (The fact that all the voting happened in just two hours easily accounts for the fully saturated voting connections.)  This means that just looking at the raw numbers would have revealed very unfair results.  Apparently the official vote counters analyzed the data at a deeper level, because that was necessary to correctly identify the separation between who should stay and who cannot possibly win.

If the previous week's announcement that the show would be "live in all time zones" had been worded more clearly to indicate that viewers on the west coast needed to watch at a time 3 hours earlier, the vote-counting computers would have been even more saturated.  For clarification to people who do not live on the west coast, countless TV shows claim to be "live" but, for us on the west coast, that just means it's recorded in front of a live audience, profanity is bleeped out, and then the show is broadcast 3 hours after the "live-live" version on the east coast.  As a result of the scriptwriter's mistake, countless fans (including me) on the west coast discovered that voting and eliminations had already been done when we watched it from 8pm to 10pm, it's usual time (on both coasts).  This loss of voting data easily could have affected the results, such as giving fewer votes to country-western singer Caleb.

Some people question whether Caleb deserves to be in the top 7.  Based on the poll results here, he doesn't.  But this pattern happens each season because country-western music fans are well-networked and they tell each other when to vote and what number to use for text-message voting, based on information that comes from the fewer number of country-western-music fans who watch the show.

Some people question why Cade was not eliminated.  In case you don't know why, lots and lots of American Idol fans started watching when they were young mothers, around 30 to 40 years of age (roughly), and they are biased in favor of good-looking (to them) young men.  This gives an advantage to Cade and Caleb.

Some people question whether Jurnee should have been eliminated insead of Gabby.  Maybe.  Yet more importantly it's likely that Jurnee will be eliminated next week, and if the outcome had been reversed then Gabby would be the one going home next week.  In other words, the cutoff between "can win" and "can't win" always involves some lack of precision about the exact dividing point.

So, thankfully, the transition from top 10 to top 7 was as fair as it could have been, considering the potential for disaster.

Now let's hope the show hires a second sound engineer, because we really do want to hear the contestants sing, and we really need to hear what Ryan announces.

Final results for the top-10 VoteFair poll

Based on 125 ballots, here are the final VoteFair popularity rankings for the top-10 week:
The most popular singer is Maddie Poppe.
The second-most popular singer is Michael J. Woodard.
The third-most popular singer is Catie Turner.
The fourth-most popular singer is Jurnee.
The fifth-most popular singer is Gabby Barrett.
The sixth-most popular singer is Caleb Lee Hutchinson.
The seventh-most popular singer is Cade Foehner.
The eighth-most popular singer is Dennis Lorenzo.
The ninth-most popular singer is Ada Vox.
The tenth-most popular singer is Michelle Sussett.

What's the best strategy for official voting?

To maximize your influence in the American Idol official voting, you should give the maximum of 10 votes to your favorite 3, 4, or 5 contestants, and you should give zero votes to all the other contestants.

Explanation: The official voting uses "score voting" and the well-known best strategy for this kind of voting is to give the highest score to the choices you "approve" and to give the lowest score to the choices you "disapprove."

The tricky part is deciding which score -- the highest or lowest -- you should give to singers who you like, but who you do not like as much as your favorites. The best approach becomes clearer by understanding why the all-or-nothing "approval" strategy works.

Suppose you are tempted, perhaps out of guilt, to give at least one vote to every singer. That would yield the same influence as giving a score of 9 (out of 10) to your favorite singers and giving zero to the other singers.

In other words, your voting influence is really the difference between a high score for a favorite and a low score for someone you dislike. With this in mind, the biggest difference happens when you use the highest and lowest scores.

Another way to understand this concept is to consider that if you vote using text messaging, you wouldn't send 10 texts to support your favorite singer and then send one text each to support each of the other singers.

Of course if you cast multiple ballots -- such as one ballot using American Idol's voting app and another ballot using the American Idol website -- then you get the most influence by voting the same way on each ballot.

Top 10 week

The VoteFair American Idol poll, Top 10, is now open!

Temporarily you need to do two extra clicks, where you will see the words "American Idol 2018, Top 10" and "I Want To Vote In This Poll" (until some new code has been debugged).  Thank you for your patience as you access the brand-new NewsHereNow website/webapp!

Top 14 week

Oops, the process of debugging some new code delayed the opening of the season 16 poll. I apologize for the delay.

 


 

Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 to 15

Overall popularity of the most popular singers across all 15 seasons

Below are the final results for the cross-season poll up through Season 15. (If your favorite singer is not in this poll, it's because he or she did not rank high enough in previous years.)

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 78 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 18 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Second-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 65 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 6 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Third-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 47 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 2 voters marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Adam Lambert (season 8)  Ranking score is 42 for Adam Lambert (season 8) 4 voters marked Adam Lambert (season 8) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 34 for David Cook (season 7) 6 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Haley Reinhart (season 10)  Ranking score is 29 for Haley Reinhart (season 10) 4 voters marked Haley Reinhart (season 10) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Trent Harmon (Season 15)  Ranking score is 23 for Trent Harmon (Season 15) 3 voters marked Trent Harmon (Season 15) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Candice Glover (season 12)  Ranking score is 19 for Candice Glover (season 12) 0 voter marked Candice Glover (season 12) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular LaPorsha Renae (Season 15)  Ranking score is 13 for LaPorsha Renae (Season 15) 3 voters marked LaPorsha Renae (Season 15) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular
is a tie among these choices
Jena Irene (season 13)  Ranking score is 4 for Jena Irene (season 13) 0 voter marked Jena Irene (season 13) as their first choice
Jax Cole (season 14)  Ranking score is 4 for Jax Cole (season 14) 0 voters marked Jax Cole (season 14) as their first choice
11th-most popular Joey Cook (season 14)  Ranking score is 0 for Joey Cook (season 14) 0 voters marked Joey Cook (season 14) as their first choice

 


Season 15 poll

Top 2 results

It's a wrap!  This season was much fairer than what has happened in some other seasons, and with a final pairwise contest between the two most popular singers, we have a deserving winner.  Congratulations Trent Harmon!

To those of you who have been voting in these VoteFair polls, thank you!!!

Top 3 results

No surprise this week.  Now we are down to a pairwise comparison between the two top singers.  In a pairwise comparison, vote splitting cannot happen.

Each week in these VoteFair polls your ranking of contestants makes it possible to do pairwise comparisons, and that's why the results here are not vulnerable to vote splitting.  In other words, vote splitting can only happen when voting only allows us to indicate a single favorite choice.

As a clarification, the official voting does allow us to split our support into various numbers of votes to second and third (etc.) singers, but that is still using single-mark ballots because each such “vote” is a different ballot with just a single singer's name being marked.

Top 4 results

No surprises this week.  The fact that LaPorsha Renae was in the bottom two reveals that, in the official voting, fans who prefer a male singer significantly outnumber fans who prefer a female singer.  This means that fans of the two remaining male singers might cast so many votes that LaPorsha Renae could be eliminated next week, even though she is more popular than third-most-popular Dalton Rapattoni.

Expressed another way, in this VoteFair poll the fans of both male singers can indicate that LaPorsha Renae is their second choice, but in the official voting those male-singer fans cannot afford to waste any of their official votes on her.  Here is yet another example of the difference between pairwise counting and first-choice only counting.

Gender-biased stuffed ballots

A few voters in Denham Springs Louisiana, Woodstock Georgia, Frisco Texas, Honolulu Hawaii, and Angola Indiana have attempted to stuff the VoteFair ballot box with their highest support for Trent Harmon and Dalton Rapattoni, and with low rankings for LaPorsha Renae.  After removing those ballots, plus some outside-the-United-States ballots, here (below) are the current rankings.

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Trent Harmon  Ranking score is 61 for Trent Harmon 77 voters marked Trent Harmon as their first choice
Second-most popular Dalton Rapattoni  Ranking score is 37 for Dalton Rapattoni 75 voters marked Dalton Rapattoni as their first choice
Third-most popular LaPorsha Renae  Ranking score is 19 for LaPorsha Renae 48 voters marked LaPorsha Renae as their first choice
Fourth-most popular MacKenzie Bourg  Ranking score is 0 for MacKenzie Bourg 18 voters marked MacKenzie Bourg as their first choice

Normally vote splitting among the three males would keep LaPorsha Renae relatively safe, but there is heavy official voting by female fans who strongly prefer a good-looking male singer, and they are likely to vote using multiple accounts (such as both Facebook and Google), so LaPorsha Renae is not safe.  As stated here in previous weeks, every vote counts — just as it does in close government elections when the differences are significant.

Top 5 results

The elimination of Sonika Vaid leaves us with three male singers and one superb female singer.  Next week, if nothing goes wrong with the official vote counting, vote splitting among the males combined with the superb singing skill of LaPorsha Renae will cause one of the three remaining males to be eliminated.  This assumes that too many viewers do not assume that LaPorsha Renae is getting plenty of votes from other viewers.

Top 6 results

The fact that Sonika Vaid was in the bottom two — instead of slightly less-popular MacKenzie Bourg — indicates the typical bias in favor of male singers.

Top 6 commentary

This week's current VoteFair results (Wednesday night) indicate that Tristan McIntosh and/or MacKenzie Bourg will be eliminated this week.

If any of the other singers gets the fewest official votes, then the judges should save that singer.

The biggest risk is that lots of fans might assume that LaPorsha Renae is getting plenty of votes from other voters, and that could cause her to get the fewest votes.  This would be similar to what happened years ago the week that Jennifer Hudson was eliminated early in the competition.

Please remember this lesson when you vote in the U.S. Presidential election: don't assume that other voters will make the right choice!  Every vote does count!

Top 8 commentary

No big surprises this week.

This week's “greediest voter” award goes to a voter in South Hadley, Massachusetts, who attempted to cast 10 ballots.  Apparently he or she does not realize that just using a different ranking on each ballot does not make them come from different places.

Top 10 results, and what's happening in the U.S. Presidential primary election

Yup, vote-splitting happened this week.  And with vote-splitting going on in the U.S. Presidential election among the Republican candidates, it's a good time to remind you how it works.

Among the Top 10 there were 6 females and 4 males.  If we guess that the preference for a male winner versus a female winner is somewhat equal, then the half of the voters who prefer a female are splitting their votes among 6 contestants, whereas the half of the voters who prefer a male are only splitting their votes among 4 contestants.  The result is that each female gets fewer votes compared to each male, which makes the elimination of two female singers more likely compared to the non-gender-biased result of eliminating one male and one female.

Again the important concept is that the contestant with the fewest first-choice votes is not necessarily the least-popular contestant.

In this case, Olivia Rox, in the VoteFair poll, was not the second-least-popular singer, but the least-popular male singer, Lee Jean, received more first-choice votes.  And apparently either she did not sing as well as usual, or Tristan McIntosh and Avalon Young sang better than usual (I don't know which because I don't watch on Thursday nights), so Olivia Rox was eliminated early.

[Clarification from Mrs. Dale Wester: “Olivia had to be hospitalized for the flu during Top 10 week; I doubt she was fully recovered last Thursday. This week, her biggest problem was song choice. In exit interviews, Olivia explained that she had a different song prepared but changed based on recommendations given during rehearsals.”]

The elimination of Gianna Isabella was fair, because she was at the bottom of the Top 10.

In the Republican presidential election, the presence of three main candidates is causing vote splitting because each voter can only mark the name of one candidate.  If instead each voter could indicate a second choice, pairwise counting could be done, and pairwise counting is not vulnerable to vote splitting.  What does this really mean?

The writers of the U.S. Constitution knew about vote splitting, so they set up the electoral college voting method.  At the time, without having even mechanical devices that could do sophisticated counting, that's the best they could do.  Yet the founders of our nation would be dumbfounded by the stupidity of today's Congress.  The founders expected that when better counting methods became practical — which they are now, because of computer technology — the members of Congress would update the Constitution to use better counting methods.  Alas.

This summer many voters will see in action the process of delegate voting that has mostly remained unchanged since the early days of our nation.  At the Republican convention there will be a first round of voting, and in that first round, none of the Republican candidates will receive a majority of votes — from the “delegates” who are supposed to represent us, the actual voters.  Besides the unfairness that the delegates are insiders who get chosen as a reward for having done political favors, the bigger unfairness is that those delegates have no idea who the voters really prefer the most, overall.  Why do they not know?  We, the voters, or at least the “Republican” voters, were never asked for our second choice.  (Of course a second choice is not needed for the Democratic convention.)  The long-standing tradition is to assume that the delegates are smart people, and that the delegates who promised to vote (on the first round) for their candidate will, when necessary, shift their vote to the best of the remaining candidates.  Ha!  What really happens is that in back-room meetings delegates (and the unpopular candidates who only have a few delegates) are promised something they want in exchange for switching their vote, usually to the candidate who the party insiders prefer.  And that person would be Marco Rubio, because he is a puppet of special interests.  This does not mean that Marco Rubio will win.  It means that Republican insiders will try to use the convention's vote-shifting process to defeat Donald Trump because his political views are unknown (and have changed dramatically over time).  To a lessor extent, insiders will also try to defeat Ted Cruz because he is motivated by some personal prejudices that are in conflict with party “traditions.”

What can be done?  Learn more!  And please point out to family members and close friends that marking only a single candidate's name on an election ballot is primitive!  For a clear explanation of the problem and the solution, please read the Declaration of Election-Method Reform Advocates, which is a document signed by a few of us who fully understand vote-counting methods.  Thank you for learning!  For that you are a hero!

Top 10 poll

Now that we can fit both the males and females into the same poll, we can compare the popularity of the males versus females.  But remember that the show uses unfair single-mark balloting, so don't assume that the elimination order will be gender unbiased.  In fact, a female is likely to be eliminated next, even if she is a better singer than all the males, simply because currently there are fewer males.  The pairwise counting done in these VoteFair polls do not have that vote-splitting unfairness.

A few people voted in the Top 24 poll after the Thursday show started on the East coast, and those votes were removed.  (Please wait for the new poll to start.  Sometimes I'm busy on Thursday night and cannot close the poll until later that night, and cannot start the next poll until mid-day Friday.)

Top 24 commentary

The judges and producers were wise to abandon their original plans to have the judges choose almost all the top 10 contestants.  Based on the results of this last week's VoteFair poll, the judges made wise decisions when they chose the four top singers, and this prevented the unfair results that otherwise would have happened with so many contestants and so many needed eliminations.  The producers wisely allowed us, the viewers, to choose the other six.

Let's hope that TV producers do not forget the most important lesson from American Idol: It is popular because we, the viewers, get to vote, without the judges getting to have any voting influence.  The TV shows that allow their judges to give extra points to their favorite(s) are so much less worthwhile to watch because it takes too many viewer votes to overcome those biases from the judges.  At this point, the judges still can influence voting by what they say, and that's plenty of influence at this point (after they eliminated thousands of less-skilled singers).

Top 24 poll

The Season 15 VoteFair poll is now open!  Share your preferences in this poll, so that next week you will know who to support with your official votes.

Ooops!  Thank you Mrs. Dale Wester for pointing out my mistake in thinking the eliminated contestants were eligible as wildcard contestants.  I admit that, although I watch (or just listen to) the show on Wednesday nights, I do not watch on Thursday nights.  So I don't know what's said on the Thursday shows.  As a fix, I have changed the word "wildcard" to "eliminated."  It's still interesting to see which eliminated contestants are the most popular.  (And if the show needs to pick a replacement for someone who can't continue, the results here could provide some info about who to consider.)

Season 15 summary table

Links to each week's results (with some exceptions) are in the summary table column headings.

The asterisk (*) below indicates the early elimination of Olivia Rox due to having been hospitalized with the flu and switching songs at the last minute.

Contestant Eliminated Top females Top males Top 10 Top 8 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2 Final result
Trent Harmon363 (tie)22111Winner
LaPorsha Renae3 (tie)1111222Runner-up
Dalton Rapattoni1323333Out
MacKenzie Bourg254544Out
Sonika Vaid223 (tie)45Out
Tristan McIntosh4866Out
Avalon Young3 (tie)75Out
Lee Jean497Out
Olivia Rox14 *Out
Gianna Isabella510Out
Jenn Blosil6Out
Jeneve Mitchell7Out
Thomas Stringfellow5Out
Manny Torres6Out
Emily Brooke(1)
Stephany Negrete(2)
Amelia Eisenhauer(3)
Adam Lasher(4)
CJ Johnson(5)
Kory Wheeler(6)
Jenna Renae(7)
James VIII(8)
Shelbie Z(9)
Jordan Sasser(10)

 


Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 14

Gender bias?  Yes!

This year's cross-season poll reveals a clear gender bias in favor of male contestants.  Ironically, in this gender bias, it is women who tend to prefer male singers, and apparently (based on various evidence) they vote more often in the official voting, so they tend to cause the winner to be a male.  In contrast to official voting, this poll limits each voter to just one ballot.

This two-question poll — which admittedly is not statistically significant for many reasons — shows that Jax Cole and Joey Cook are more popular than the winner Nick Fradiani, and more popular than runner-up Nick Fradiani, even though Jax Cole was eliminated one week earlier, and Joey Cook was eliminated five weeks earlier.

As in previous years, Kelly Clarkson continues to be the most popular American Idol (among both winners and non-winners), and Carrie Underwood is second-most popular.  Haley Reinhart (from Season 10) continues to rank high (third) because her fans regularly vote in this cross-season poll.

Interestingly this year's winner, Nick Fradiani, and runner-up, Nick Fradiani, are at the bottom of the overall poll, where they are competing with the most popular singers from previous seasons.

Below are the overall final results and Season-14-only results for this year's cross-season poll.

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Jax Cole (season 14)  Ranking score is 59 for Jax Cole (season 14) 13 voters marked Jax Cole (season 14) as their first choice
Second-most popular Joey Cook (season 14)  Ranking score is 44 for Joey Cook (season 14) 15 voters marked Joey Cook (season 14) as their first choice
Third-most popular Nick Fradiani (season 14)  Ranking score is 34 for Nick Fradiani (season 14) 12 voters marked Nick Fradiani (season 14) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Clark Beckham (season 14)  Ranking score is 30 for Clark Beckham (season 14) 12 voters marked Clark Beckham (season 14) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Rayvon Owen (season 14)  Ranking score is 18 for Rayvon Owen (season 14) 6 voters marked Rayvon Owen (season 14) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Tyanna Jones (season 14)  Ranking score is 9 for Tyanna Jones (season 14) 0 voters marked Tyanna Jones (season 14) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Sarina-Joi Crowe (season 14)  Ranking score is 0 for Sarina-Joi Crowe (season 14) 4 voters marked Sarina-Joi Crowe (season 14) as their first choice

 

Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 71 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 17 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Second-most popular Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 62 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 8 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Third-most popular Haley Reinhart (season 10)  Ranking score is 50 for Haley Reinhart (season 10) 15 voters marked Haley Reinhart (season 10) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Adam Lambert (season 8)  Ranking score is 38 for Adam Lambert (season 8) 8 voters marked Adam Lambert (season 8) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 36 for David Cook (season 7) 4 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 31 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 0 voter marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular
is a tie among these choices
Jena Irene (season 13)  Ranking score is 19 for Jena Irene (season 13) 3 voters marked Jena Irene (season 13) as their first choice
Candice Glover (season 12)  Ranking score is 19 for Candice Glover (season 12) 0 voters marked Candice Glover (season 12) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular Jax Cole (season 14)  Ranking score is 14 for Jax Cole (season 14) 0 voters marked Jax Cole (season 14) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Angie Miller (season 12)  Ranking score is 9 for Angie Miller (season 12) 0 voters marked Angie Miller (season 12) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Clark Beckham (season 14)  Ranking score is 4 for Clark Beckham (season 14) 2 voters marked Clark Beckham (season 14) as their first choice
11th-most popular Nick Fradiani (season 14)  Ranking score is 0 for Nick Fradiani (season 14) 5 voters marked Nick Fradiani (season 14) as their first choice

 

Please help measure gender bias by voting in the cross-season poll

Please vote — just once! — in this year's cross-season poll.  Your ballot will help measure the gender bias that is explained in the What's goin' on? section at the top of the Season 14 commentary page.  Thanks!

 


Season 14   (2015)

Link to Season 14 commentary

Season 14 summary table

The asterisks (*) below indicate the early eliminations of Sarina-Joi Crowe and Joey Cook and Jax Cole, and the somewhat delayed elimination of Rayvon Owen.

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

Contestant Top 24,
First week
males &
females
Top 24,
Second week
males &
females
Top 16
males &
females
Top 12 Top 11,
First week
(data lost)
Top 11,
Second week
Top 9 Top 8 Top 7 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Top 2
Nick Fradiani5234?66554333Winner
Clark Beckham1111?11111122Out
Jax Cole1 (tie)223?32222211 *Out
Rayvon Owen9657?8777 *55 *4 *Out
Tyanna Jones1 (tie)332?444434Out
Quentin Alexander8 (tie)325?55666Out
Joey Cook4446?2333 *Out
Qaasim Middleton74411Saved988Out
Daniel Seavey35612?119Out
Adanna Duru9979?7Out
Maddie Walker87510?10Out
Sarina-Joi Crowe6 (tie)118 *Out
Alexis Gomez106 (tie)8Out
Mark Andrew698Out
Loren Lott7106Out
Adam Ezegelian4117Out
Katherine Winston6 (tie)5Out
Riley Bria107Out
Lovey James58Out
Savion Wright8 (tie)8Out
Trevor Douglas1110Out
Shannon Berthiaume211Out
Michael Simeon212Out
Shi Scott312Out

 


Cross-season poll, Seasons 1 through 13

Kelly Clarkson continues to be the overall most popular American Idol.  Lots of Haley Reinhart fans vote here every year, so she is tied with ever-popular Carrie Underwood.  At the bottom are Caleb Johnson and Jessica Sanchez and Alex Preston, so they will be eliminated from the next cross-season poll.

Invalid votes were removed before calculating these final results.

     
Popularity Choice VoteFair
ranking
score
Traditional
vote count

(for comparison)
First-most popular Kelly Clarkson (season 1)  Ranking score is 71 for Kelly Clarkson (season 1) 11 voters marked Kelly Clarkson (season 1) as their first choice
Second-most popular
is a tie among these choices
Haley Reinhart (season 10)  Ranking score is 53 for Haley Reinhart (season 10) 5 voters marked Haley Reinhart (season 10) as their first choice
Carrie Underwood (season 4)  Ranking score is 56 for Carrie Underwood (season 4) 5 voters marked Carrie Underwood (season 4) as their first choice
Third-most popular Jena Irene (season 13)  Ranking score is 45 for Jena Irene (season 13) 4 voters marked Jena Irene (season 13) as their first choice
Fourth-most popular Adam Lambert (season 8)  Ranking score is 35 for Adam Lambert (season 8) 3 voters marked Adam Lambert (season 8) as their first choice
Fifth-most popular Jennifer Hudson (season 3)  Ranking score is 31 for Jennifer Hudson (season 3) 0 voters marked Jennifer Hudson (season 3) as their first choice
Sixth-most popular Angie Miller (season 12)  Ranking score is 25 for Angie Miller (season 12) 3 voters marked Angie Miller (season 12) as their first choice
Seventh-most popular Candice Glover (season 12)  Ranking score is 19 for Candice Glover (season 12) 0 voters marked Candice Glover (season 12) as their first choice
Eighth-most popular David Cook (season 7)  Ranking score is 15 for David Cook (season 7) 4 voters marked David Cook (season 7) as their first choice
Ninth-most popular Caleb Johnson (season 13)  Ranking score is 10 for Caleb Johnson (season 13) 2 voters marked Caleb Johnson (season 13) as their first choice
Tenth-most popular Jessica Sanchez (season 11)  Ranking score is 5 for Jessica Sanchez (season 11) 0 voters marked Jessica Sanchez (season 11) as their first choice
11th-most popular Alex Preston (season 13)  Ranking score is 0 for Alex Preston (season 13) 0 voters marked Alex Preston (season 13) as their first choice

 


Season 13   (2014)

Link to Season 13 commentary

Season 13 summary table

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

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 Johnson5613121222332Winner
Jena Irene6222312111111Runner-up
Alex Preston453123333322Out
Jessica Meuse3444 (tie)4444444Out
Sam Woolf1364 (tie)56
Saved
5555Out
CJ Harris10105798876Out
Dexter Roberts(omitted)9888776Out
Malaya Watson121196656Out
Majesty Rose21757Out
MK Nobilette812119Out
Ben Briley9810Out
Emily Piriz77Out
Kristen 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

 


Season 12   (2013)

Link to Season 12 commentary

Season 12 summary table

The asterisks (*) below indicate 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:

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

Link to Season 10 commentary

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
 

 

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.

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

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 Muñoz9Out--------------------------

 


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.  (This effect was clear from looking at the VoteFair poll results for that season, but alas that poll data is now lost.)  The vote-splitting 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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