X Factor

Okay, I know my readers and I know most of you will regard this as disgustingly low-brow stuff that pollsters shouldn’t be sullying themselves with – but it still comes down to measuring public opinion. In fact, for historical reasons YouGov has always been very interested in polling the X Factor. When YouGov did its first political polling for the Sunday Business in 2001 no one paid much attention, despite them doing very well in calling the election. Later that year was the first series of Pop Idol, and in February 2002 YouGov polled people to find out who would win. At the time the strong favourite was Gareth Gates – the YouGov poll suggested that Will Young would in fact win. YouGov phoned round lots of newsdesks with this poll and no one was interested, they all thought Gareth Gates was bound to win and this new fangled internet polling thingy was obviously wrong.

The next week, after Will Young had won, they all rang back. 2001 election? Pah! It wasn’t till internet polling got Pop Idol right that newspapers paid attention.

Anyway, history lesson aside, there is a eve-of-final YouGov poll of X Factor viewers here. The poll is of 1566 people aged 16+ who watch the X Factor, filtered for people who will actually vote. For tonight’s show, 42% say they will vote for Matt, 26% for Rebecca, 7% for One DIrecton and 6% for Cher. 17% say they will wait and see how the acts perform on the night, but asked which act they are most likely to vote for they breakdown in similar proportions to committed voters, being most likely to vote for Matt followed by Rebecca.

One Direction and Cher are within the margin of error, so either of them could end up being eliminated tonight depending on how well they actually perform and how under 16s+ vote (they are assumed to be more favourable to One Direction), but whatever the combination it looks overwhelmingly likely that Matt and Rebecca will end up the final two. In a straight head to head, between Matt and Rebecca, Matt would win 53% to 33%. 10% say they would decided on the night.

Of course, for all its similarities to election polling, there is the major difference of the contestants actually singing before people vote, so there’s room for late swings (it’s as if there was a final leaders’ debate on the eve of the election after the final polls) but what the hell. Matt appears favourite, Rebecca will likely be the runner up… assuming all that nasty singing malarky doesn’t change anything ;)

39 Responses to “X Factor”

  1. Given that Matt is an actually talented male soloist, there is no way in hell I’d be wishing SyCo on him. The most vocally talented contestant has more often than not won (Shayne, Leona, Alexandra and Joe), so either Matt or Rebecca winning, from what I’ve heard of them, would be meritocratic

  2. So One Direction are the Lib Dems of pop then, but probably more popular (and I’m a Lib Dem!)

  3. @ Anthony

    Could you not have slipped in a question or two about student fees/ EMA & the protests into this poll?

    I’d have been interested in how X-factor watching, 16 year olds reacted to those issues.

  4. Matt’s video has been most popular on YouTube.

  5. Test

  6. What is X Factor?

  7. I am sure this poll must be useful for testing sampling and weighting accuracy Anthony, so surprisingly I welcome the approach. I have never watched the programme and am somewhat disappointed to be aware of what it’s about, but as Amber, I want to know what these people think. The first post on this list is from someone I haven’t seen before so welcome, if so. What do you think about the VAT increase, DJG68, and for that matter the localism bill?

  8. Anthony

    15 pages of questions? And I thought 6 pages on the Royal Wedding over the top. :?

    I must say that for me this is “a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing” (isn’t it awful when the quote you want to use isn’t what you think it is). I have genuinely seen none of this or any other series. This does not stop me, like every other commentator, from having opinions.

    Firstly I can’t help noticing that, despite endless tabloid coverage, readers of the Sun seem not much more likely to watch or vote that the population at large. Equally, while the stereotypical fan of such series is supposed to be young, female and working-class, there is only a small bias towards such groups among the 30% who will or may vote.

    Oddly enough the whole seems to be weighted towards a sex-ratio of 1:1.44 in favour of women. Has there been a slaughter of first-born males when I wasn’t looking?

    Also can’t people vote multiple times on this sort of show? (the tea-baggers allegedly tried to fix DWTS in the US in favour of the Palin girl). Shouldn’t there be some form of weighting? And could you make allowances for under-18 voters?

    Although you mention YouGov’s triumph in the initial X-Factor series (your Harry Truman moment), have you coverered subsequent series and with what success? I’m also interested to see among the responses that 54% believe that The X Factor probably did fix the results of some previous contretemps – if “reality” goes the other way, will your results be used to prove skullduggery?

    It’s actually quite interesting looking at data in which you have absolutely zero emotional involvement. :)

  9. Ernie – you really don’t want to know!

    Roger – the sample was made up of people we had pre-identified as people who had told us they had watched some of the series, hence it’s weighted towards the demographic profile of X Factor viewers, which is heavily skewed towards women. In various work earlier in the series we’ve asked about multiple voting and about if people have children or younger siblings who are voting. We didn’t think it would make enough impact to include it in the final figures (under 16s will help One Direction a bit and hinder Rebecca a bit)

    You are lucky enough not to know about what the “fixing” allegations are – the claims are more along the lines that the producers have decided the voting format or tweaked the rules to favour candidates (e.g. eliminate 2 candidates one particular week, or not let Cheryl vote after the other judges, or have a judges vote when people expected only a public vote or whatever). After all the fuss a year or two back over dodgy phone-ins the actual phone voting will be beyond reproach.

    I think YouGov have done polls for previous series, but I don’t know good they were. The only reason I’m aware of this one is because I do YouGov’s political polling now and for historical reasons our X Factor polling is always done by the political department.

  10. I don’t watch X Factor. The outcome is too predictable in terms of the type of act as opposed to the actual individual.

    I have once, and only once, seen somebody who has actually been on X Factor perform live. She is Iona the Contortionist, and she is absolutely incredible. She is a world record holder for a particular hold, in which she bites a support with her mouth and bends her back into a U shape so that her feet are above and in front of her head. It gives a whole new meaning to bending over backwards.

    You can find video clips of Iona, including her X Factor appearances, on the web. Far more exhilarating than political opinion sites!

    But Iona only got to the semi-finals of X Factor. As this years finals show, the programme is consistently won by singers, even if there are other performers with more exceptional talent. And, coming round to psephology, this is clearly because of the constituency of people who actually vote. (like the Eurovision Song Contest).

    I doubt if the necessary ITV information is published, but I would like to see which contestant the YouGov poll would predict to be the winner if its results are weighted according to the demographics, in terms of age and sex, of voters in the television poll. As it is, YouGov weights according to self-reports as to how likely respondents say they are to vote. Compared to the unweighted result, this does change the demogrphics in that more people in the 40-55 age range are likely to vote. But I am somewhat surprised that there does not seem to be much differential between men and women in relation to self-report of voting propensity – I would have guessed that more women will vote than men – and I would also have guessed that more pensioners would vote than the wieghted results show (although perhaps they have less money and more sense).

    Given these methodological issues and the margin of error, I wouldn’t take this poll too seriously. But then X Factor is entertainment and an associated opinion poll adds to the gaiety of the thing, so why not!

    By the way, according to her website Iona is now studying Law at Birkbeck College as well as performing: I guess she is excellent value for corporate entertainment etc. All the best for her.

    P.S. I forgot, I have actually seen somebody else from X Factor perform in the theatre. But that doesn’t detract from what I posted about Iona.

  11. I didn’t watch pop idol past the auditions but I remember people telling me that Will Young was expected to win rather than Gareth Gates which was what people like me who only had a mild interest expected, so you can’t quite have remembered your story correctly. The news that he was favourite must have got out before the vote somehow.

  12. Ha! I watched the entire series that Alexandra Burke won – so I know what I am talking about.

    They rolled out a ton of celebrities to make it more watchable. Britney Spears: Chubby, jet-lagged, miming. What’s-her-name that copied Whitney Houston’s vocal tricks. And in the top slot, Beyonce (allegedly singing live) in a duet with Alexandra Burke.

    Cheryl Cole managed to be adorable throughout; she deserves kudos for that, it can’t have been easy!

    Therefore, I did my duty as a citizen & kept up-to-date with our mainstream culture. To conclude: it is pretty much like any other talent contest; I can see why some people enjoy it…. but I didn’t, it was bl**dy awful.

  13. I see that 14% do not expect to watch it. What proportion of a normal sample definitely do not watch it AW, (otherwise my comments earlier are rubbish)? I initially assumed that only 14% of our population do not watch this programme and this thought that I thought that possible has depressed me more than anything, so glad it isn’t the case. What, working back, is the percentage who read a book or watch something else?

  14. Anthony

    Thanks for those answers – it also explains why going on those percentages about 50 million people would be watching, which I think unlikely.

    I did a bit of rooting around and found out that YouGov called 1-2-3 correctly last year, but couldn’t find anything earlier. Even the famous Pop Idol poll of 2002 seemed to be missing (the Life archive only starts in September), though I found a fair bit of ironic bragging about it.

  15. Oh, be quiet all of you, Matt’s singing… :-)

    (Altho’ I do want Rebecca to win)

    Regards, Martyn

  16. Howard – when recruiting the sample we asked if people ever watch it (as opposed to watching the previous episode), from memory about 60% of people don’t ever watch it. I think their viewing figures peak at about 12 or 13 million, so about a third of people.

  17. Martyn – you’re not obliged to actually watch it you know!

  18. Be quiet, Anthony, you’re talking over Rebecca… :-) I’ll get back to you when Cher’s singing… :-(

    Regards, Martyn

  19. For those of you holding out for proper political polls, there’s a poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph (presumably ICM) as well as the regular YouGov/Sunday Times poll. There might be a MORI poll as well (though in theory that could be one and the same as the S. Telegraph one)

  20. Louis is talking in cliche’s, Danni’s neck is beginning to show her age, Cheryl’s going over the top, Simon ‘s wearing an open-necked shirt AGAIN (oh, for gawd’s sake). They’ve just cut to Liverpool….aaaargh!

  21. Frederick,

    I think you may be confusing X Factor with Britain’s Got Talent (ultimately both line Simon Cowell’s pockets.)

    I do watch X Factor, and Matt is musically head and shoulders above the rest. He can actually play and write songs too.

    I have concerns for Cher. She is emotionally very fragile, and when as is likely, she doesn’t win, she will be a mess. I always thought that from the early auditions. I do hope the show supports her afterwards.

  22. “One Direction”‘s just performed…the audience are melting down, screams all over, Simon’s just effort-inflated (“you gave it a THOUSAND PERCENT”), they’ve just had a live feed from Doncaster (Keeeryst, they must be freezing). Advert break , then Cher…

    Regards, Martyn

  23. Watching Cher is like watching an emotional car crash about to happen sadly…

  24. @ Mike Smithson

    For what are you testing, Mike? Is Political Betting widening out to include betting on the X-Factor result too? ;-)

  25. Cher has two major disadvantages: she can’t sing as well as Rebecca, and she isn’t as pretty as Rebecca. She’s compensated by sticking within her range, and she’s just done it again, a mash-up of “The Clapping Song” and “Get Ur Freak On”. Louis has damned with faint praise (“Hey! You’re in the final!”), but Cheryl luvs her mini-me to bits. And now it’s live to Malvern. Oh. My. Gawd.

    Regards, Martyn

    (PS: Garry, yes you’re right about Cher, but I think she’s tougher than you think)

  26. Rhianna’s on the stage, Matt’s just had a trouser accident…

    Rhianna! Matt! Same stage! WHICH UNIVERSE IS THIS?!

    Regards, Martyn

  27. For those of you holding out for proper political polls, there’s a poll in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph (presumably ICM) as well as the regular YouGov/Sunday Times poll. There might be a MORI poll as well (though in theory that could be one and the same as the S. Telegraph one)
    Yipee! A plethora of polls, a cornucopia of questions & lots to keep us from shovelling snow on Saturday night!

    BTW, We Scots lost our Transport Minister, due to a blizzard of bad publicity over his lack of grit during the recent freakish weather. Yes, these are the type of lame puns we’ve had for a week up here in t’North.

    So, the government did eventually get blamed for the weather! Take heed Coalition, there could be snow in the pipeline for England too.

  28. Ooops, ooops…Xtina vs. Rebecca. Big voice vs bigger voice. Rebecca’s overawed, not good.

    Regards, Martyn

  29. All I know is that Cheryl Cole makes me go weak at the knees and that is a very sad confession from a 54 year old who’s philandering days are very much a thing of the past!!

    No harm dreaming, though!

  30. Oh, it’s getting worse…Robbie Williams’s duetting with “One Direction” – they’re both out of shape, but Robbie’s outclassing them. It doesn’t help he’s about a foot taller than any of them – lord, they look about eight years old… :-(

    Regards, Martyn

    (Nick. Cheryl. Really?)

  31. OH, WHAT IS SHE WEARING? (Cher. Will.i.am)

    Regards, Martyn

  32. Matt (Rhianna) and Cher (will.i.am) got the best of the duets: Rebecca (Xtina) and One Direction (Robbie the Doughnut) suffered in comparison.

    It’s getting embarrassing…Rhianna’s just done her solo, and she’s so, so much better than the actual competitors… :-(

    Regards, Martyn

  33. Xtina’s doing a routine that ISN’T LADY MARMALADE, HONEST!!! (compare h ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQa7SvVCdZk and h ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rmqs5X_n2g )

    Regards, Martyn

  34. Rebecca, One Direction and Matt are thru to tomorrow. Cher isn’t.

    Regards, Martyn

  35. Lord Ashcroft’s polling (tomorrow’s S Telegraph):

    h ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/liberaldemocrats/8196469/Poll-Lib-Dems-to-lose-half-their-voters-at-next-election.html

  36. Interesting sideline on how boundary changes might affect MPs. ;)

    h ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/8196241/Tories-warn-Cameron-Listen-to-us-or-we-mutiny.html

  37. Latest YouGov/Sunday Times voting intention – CON 40%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%

  38. If it helps the x-factor market on the oddschecker website has the following (to win):

    Matt 10/11
    One Direction 7-2
    Rebecca 9-2.

    And yes, I watch the show. But as entertainment, not as a singing contest. oh, and because the wife likes Matt.

  39. Yes Garry. You are right that I confused the two programmes. Shows how much I watch them!, So who cares?

    I am extremely unsurprised that Matt won, quite apart from the pre-programme prediction. As I posted beforehand, too much depends on the demographics of the voters.

    Fortunately X Factor is entertainment and not politics.