Ballot Changes: Updating the Hugo Math
In the past few days, there have been four changes to the Hugo ballot: two authors (Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet) have dropped out, and two more authors/artists have been ruled ineligible (a John C. Wright novelette and Professional Artist John Eno). All the details can be found at the official Hugo Awards Website, and File 770 has a nice overview article.
Since Chaos Horizon is a Hugo and Nebula analytics site, these changes give us some new information about the voting totals, campaigns, and block sizes of the 2015 Hugos. In my two previous Hugo math posts—How Many Puppies and Margin of Victory—I tried to use the information we already have to estimate (and it’s only an estimate) the size of the effective voting blocks and the margins of victory. With this new data, I can update those estimates. Let’s go through the changes one by one to see what we can learn:
Best Novel Category: Cixin Liu’s novel The Three-Body Problem replaced Marko Kloos’s withdrawn novel Lines of Departure. Kloos’s novel appeared on both the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates. The range of votes prior to Kloos’s withdrawal was 256-387. The new range of votes is 212-387.
This doesn’t tell us that much. We know that The Three Body-Problem novel received 212 votes. We can’t assume that Kloos was the 256 vote getter (that could have been Addison), so this doesn’t help us estimate the size of the combined Rabid + Sad Puppy effective block vote in the Novel category. I’ve been using the term “effective block” because the current data doesn’t allow us to distinguish between 300 Puppy voters voting 67% of a slate or 200 voters voting 100% of the slate. Since there is such a range between the top and low end of the votes (even in categories the Puppies swept), I think you need to assume that not every Puppy voter voted straight down the line.
However, we can tentatively conclude that neither the Rabid Puppy nor the Sad Puppy alone was able to reach 212 votes. The Puppy slates diverged with their last choice of novel: the Sad Puppies had Charles Gannon, and the Rabid Puppies had Brad Torgersen. However, it may be that both of them were offered the Hugo spot and turned it down for various reasons. Until we have more info, we’ll have to chalk up a “learned little” for this category.
Best Novelette Category: Now we can learn something. John C. Wright’s story “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was ruled ineligible and replaced by “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Huevelt. That adjusted the category range from 165-267 to 72-267. Wright was a Rabid Puppy pick; Huevelt was not on either Puppy slate. We know that “The Day the World turned Upside Down” received 72 votes. Since the Puppies swept this category, we know that 165 had to be a Puppy text.
This category gives us our first definitive sense of the “margin of victory,” or how convincingly the Puppies swept the Hugos. 165 for the lowest Puppy vote, and then 72 for the highest non-Puppy vote. That’s a huge 93 votes, or more than double Huevelt’s total.
In my prior post, using 2014 stats which showed Mary Robinette Kowal getting 118 votes for “Lady Astronaut of Mars,” I estimated the margin as much lower than that (47, to be exact). However, Kowal’s numbers may have been inflated (her story was ruled ineligible the year before, so she got plenty of press and support). Torgersen was second in 2014 Novelette nomination with 92 (he was a Puppy pick), and Alette de Bodard was third with 79. That 79 number is in line with this year’s total, which may indicate that the non-Puppy group of Hugo nominators did not increase this year. Catherynn Valente’s “Fade to White” was the most nominated 2013 Novelette with 89 votes. 89 to 72 is quite a decline, considering how many more voters there were this year.
So, we can say, at least in the Novelette category, the Puppy margin of victory was 93 votes, in a category where the most popular work usually has less than 100 votes.
Best Short Story Category: Annie Bellet withdrew her Rabid and Sad Puppy supported story “Goodnight Stars,” which was replaced by the Sad Puppy supported story “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond. The range changed from 151-230 to 132-226. We know “A Single Samurai” must have received 132 votes, and we also know that “Goodnight Stars” must have received 230 votes (since the top range also changed). This category was swept by the Puppies.
It’s interesting that the top range in this category (230) is so different than in other Puppy-swept categories: 338 for Novella, 267 for Novelette (back when it was swept). The block vote certainly fell off quickly from category to category.
This is our first real chance to see the Sad and Rabid Puppy votes separated. The Sad Puppy category slate chose stories by Bellet, Grey, English, Antonelli, and Diamond. The Rabid Puppies only chose a few of those: the Bellet, the English, and Antonelli. All three were nominated. Vox Day filled out his slate with a story by Wright (nominated) and a story by Rzasa (not nominated). So the Sad Puppy nominee of Diamond with 132 votes beat Rabid Puppy nominee Rzasa. If Rzasa would have kept all the Rabid Puppy votes that went to John C. Wright, he would have made the ballot. It’s interesting to see that even in the Rabid Puppy slate there is a discernible fall off between the most popular authors to the less popular ones. EDIT: I was running these late last night, and missed looking at the Rzasa. My mistake. Sorry! Chaos Horizon should impose a “no math after 10:00 PM rule.”
So, let’s tackle this again, in the clear light of morning and after I’ve had my coffee: This is our first real chance to see the Sad and Rabid Puppy votes separated. The Sad Puppy category slate chose stories by Bellet, Grey, English, Antonelli, and Diamond. The Rabid Puppies only chose a few of those: the Bellet, the English, and Antonelli. It added two different stories, one by Wright and one by Rzasa. Both of those made the slate. If we break this down, we can start to separate some of the math out:
Short Story Category:
#1 in category: 230 votes: “Goodnight Stars” by Bellet (we know this because she withdrew and the ranged changed, story appeared on both the RP and SP slates).
#2 in category: 226 votes, don’t know the text (likely the Antonelli or English, because they appeared on both the the RP and SP ballots).
#3 in category: don’t know vote total, don’t know the story (but probably the English or Antonelli, for reasons stated above)
#4 in category: don’t know vote total, don’t know the story (but probably the Wright or Rzasa story, since they only appeared on the RP ballot)
#5 in category: 151 votes, don’t know the story (but probably the Wright or Rzasa story, because of reasons stated above)
#6 in category: 132 votes, “A Single Samurai” (appeared only on the SP slate)
With some fancy subtracting and hopefully some sound logic, here are the conclusions I’m reaching:
The SP effective vote in this category was 132, because that’s the number of votes their nominee “A Single Samurai” managed. They had one more suggestion, a story by Megan Grey, that must have placed below that.
The RP effective vote in this category was likely 151. I think it’s logical to assume that stories #3 and #4 in the ballot were the RP picks, based on the assumption that any pick on both the RP and SP ballots would have more votes since it could draw from both pools. That’s an assumption, not a fact, but I think a reasonable one. Disagree if you wish! What’s interesting is that 133 + 151 = 283, which is well shy of the # of votes the Bellet story received. This is another good indicator that neither the SP influenced voters of the RP influenced voters were moving exactly in lock step. If every SP voter who voted for “The Single Samurai” and ever RP voted who voted for either Wright or Rsaza voted for Bellet, her vote total would have been much larger. This is all complicated by possible interactions between the two groups (i.e. one person might have picked some works from the SP ballot and some works from the RP ballot), and we won’t know more precisely until after the data comes out.
Best Professional Artist: John Eno was ruled ineligible. He was a Sad and Rabid Puppy pick. He was replaced by Kirk DouPonce, a Rabid Puppy pick. There was no alternative Sad Puppy pick to elevate (they only chose 4 artists in the category). The range changed from 136-188 to 118-188.
So we know Kirk DouPonce received 118 votes. You might want to begin thinking about that number (118) as the low end of the Rabid Puppy effective block vote. That would be consistent with the Short Story category results: 118 wouldn’t quite have been enough to push the Rzasa story onto the ballot. Still, 118 votes is a huge number, and would have been enough to sweep most Hugo categories without any support from the Sad Puppies. There were two slates, both of which were large enough to effectively dominate most Hugo categories.
All of this will be greatly clarified when we get the final data after the Hugos are announced in August. Remember, these are estimates working with limited data, and are probably considered in terms of ranges (through a +/- 50 if you want to) rather than absolutes.
Anything else we can figure out at this point? EDIT: For easy references, here are the last 4 years of Hugo data, taken from the Hugo website:
As Kerani points out in the comments, so much is changing so fast in this year’s Hugo data—increased voters, withdrawals, disqualifications, block votes, etc.—that this data set (particularly in its incomplete form) can’t be considered to have a ton in common with previous data sets. Any comparisons we draw have to be considered speculative. But, since our field is speculative fiction, why not? Remember, Chaos Horizon data analysis is more for fun than anything else, and provides, in my opinion, a useful alternative to some of the other more-opinion driven sites out there. Take everything with a grain of salt, and use your own logic and analysis to make sense of what’s happening.