Editorials & Opinion

🇪🇺 Rediscovering 14 years of OGAE voting results: We analyse and reminisce

Key findings

The mathematical stuff

As with the previous article about betting odds, it is nice just to reminisce and look back at past statistics… at least it is for me! Although once again I have attempted to make a couple of conclusions about what we’ve discovered. I’m not going to pretend to be a mathematical genius. Yet, I have plotted the percentages that were written under each contest’s leaderboard throughout this article into a little graph.

The orange line shows what percentage of the eventual top 5 at Eurovision placed inside the top 5 of the OGAE voting that year. The grey line shows what percentage of the eventual top 15 at Eurovision placed inside the top 15 of the OGAE voting that year. The blue line shows an overall trend over the past 14 years regarding how accurate the top 5 in the OGAE poll have been in predicting the top 5 finishers in any order. Finally, the yellow line shows the percentage of countries that were found in both the top 5 (2007-10) or top 15 (2011-20) of the OGAE poll and the betting odds.

OGAE polls are becoming increasingly accurate

Due to only having OGAE top 15s from 2011 onwards, we had to compare the top 5s from the past 14 years to create a worthwhile trend. Of course, such a small sample is prone to random fluctuations. Nevertheless, you can see a significant trend on the graph. As the years have progressed, the OGAE top 5 has become increasingly similar to the eventual Eurovision top 5.

In the first five years we’ve analysed, only once did the OGAE poll have more than one country that finished in the Eurovision top 5 in its own top 5. In contrast, in the most recent 8 contests, the OGAE poll had more than one country that finished in the Eurovision top 5 in its own top 5 on every single occasion, with the exception of 2018. Therefore, in recent years the OGAE has become increasingly accurate at predicting the make-up of the Eurovision top 5.

Betting odds and OGAE polls: strikingly similar

Perhaps an even more noticeable trend from the graph is just how similar the countries that make up the OGAE top 15s and the betting odds top 15s are. Let’s take the statistics from 2011 onwards in which top 15s rather than top 5s were available. On every single occasion at least ten countries were found in both the top 15 of the OGAE poll and the betting odds. Furthermore, in the majority of cases (6 out of 10), at least twelve countries were found in both top 15s.

Is this a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Why are betting odds and the OGAE poll often so similar in regards to which countries rank the highest? Why are they more similar to each other than either of them are to the actual Eurovision results? Do the betting odds influence OGAE voters? Do OGAE voters influence betting odds? Perhaps it is a bit of both?

Who is copying who?

Betting odds don’t tend to change massively throughout the end of March and into April when the OGAE votes are taking place. Of course, OGAE members are hardcore Eurovision fans. They will have watched many national finals. They will have listened to entries many times. Also, they will have been paying close attention to which entries are the favourites. These are all things the casual Eurovision viewer and voter would not do.

Therefore, it is possibly understandable that OGAE voters are subconsciously influenced by betting odds. “So many people should like this song judging by its betting popularity so why don’t I? Let me listen to it a few more times”. Or on the other hand: “if this song has a chance of winning I need to let it grow on me so I’m not upset if it does win!”. Okay, that second statement may just be what I do when I’m watching endless national selections. Yet, you never know!

Other observations

There are also other themes that can be found throughout the analysis of each OGAE poll. Hardcore Eurovision fans tend to undermark novelty entries. Perhaps it’s a subconscious (or conscious!) protest against a song cheapening the contest’s reputation? In addition, there are occasions where a song that appeals to OGAE voters goes on to appeal to Eurovision voters. This is despite betting odds completely overlooking the entry. Key examples here include Ott Lepland from Estonia, Nadav Guedj from Israel, ZOË from Austria, Eleni Foureira from Cyprus and, of course, Conchita Wurst!

In conclusion, the OGAE poll is often just as good an indicator as betting odds are. This is shown by the striking similarity between the two for the majority of years. However, the OGAE poll is more susceptible to overrating certain fan favourites even more than betting odds do. For example, Mei Finegold’s Same Heart, Valentina Monetta’s Crisalide (Vola), Kati Wolf’s What About My Dreams?, Charlotte Perrelli’s Hero, Jana Burčeska’s Dance Alone and Saara Aalto’s Monsters. Many people would agree that these were obviously overrated fan favourites. Nevertheless, lying underneath the fan favourite bias is another worthwhile, yet imperfect indicator of results.

Stay tuned to ESCXTRA for the final outcome of the 2021 OGAE poll, scheduled to conclude in early May. If you have any theories regarding any of the points mentioned throughout this article then don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below or via our social media pages @ESCXTRA as I’m sure they will be just as valid if not more valid than my very own!

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