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 ;)