YouGov’s Director of Political and Social Research looks at the polling data for this year’s X Factor
It’s usually around this time of year that the questions start.
I have conducted election studies across the world and have been at the forefront of political polling in the UK for a decade.
But it’s not politics that people are asking me about. Instead, around this time each year, friends, family and even people who don’t know me, all start asking the same thing: ‘Who’s going to win X Factor?’
This is because, in addition to all the cutting-edge political research, my department at YouGov also has a long history predicting the outcome of reality TV singing contests. This distinguished track record goes all the way back to us predicting that Will Young would triumph over Gareth Gates in Pop Idol way back in February 2002.
Last year was no exception. Though Matt Cardle’s victory was widely expected, if you had taken YouGov’s successful prediction of the order of the final four contestants to the bookmakers on the morning they were published in The Sun you would have been given odds of 4:1.
So in the vague, forlorn and frankly misplaced hope that it will stop people asking, here is what we know so far from our data of X Factor viewers this year:
- The most important thing we know about this year’s contest is that there is still all to play for. In previous years strong contenders have emerged early on and consolidated their position as the live shows progressed. Matt Cardle was the textbook example of this last time around, but it has not happened this year. Instead there has been a great deal of movement in popularity as the weeks go on.
- Marcus and Craig have consistently polled strongly. Currently they are leading the pack, but it’s too close to call between the two of them and their lead is far from unassailable.
- Amelia returned with a strong showing that has placed her third in our polling. However, she remains very much an unknown quantity and it is uncertain how subsequent performances will affect her position.
- Before the live shows began, Janet was in a strong position. Standout performances in the early rounds would have cemented her at the top, but these failed to materialise. Instead her popularity has been on the slide.
- Misha B, despite being praised for her actual singing ability, seems to have not managed to shake off early accusations of difficult behaviour and even bullying. She is consistently the most disliked contestant.
- Little Mix, while already the most successful girl band in the show’s history, appear to have failed to develop a large enough fan base to compete with the boys. They are significantly more popular with women than men.
So there you have it, but as already mentioned, there is still all to play for and the reintroduction of Amelia is certainly an unknown quantity. It remains too soon to say who in going to win. In fact, at this stage all we can be certain of is that it won’t be Frankie Cocozza.
And remember, X Factor is not actually a talent contest, it is a popularity contest.