Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 2

Let’s start with the most controversial group, the Rabid Puppies. Vox Day posted a “list” on his website; how will this affect the Hugos?

I estimated the Rabid Puppies at around 550 strong in the 2015 Final Hugo vote. I feel solid about that number; I estimated it from the 586 people who voted Vox Day #1 for Best Editor, Short Form. Vox Day leapt up to 900 by the end of the voting, and that extra 400 is how I estimated the low range of the Sad Puppies.

If the Rabid Puppies had around 550 votes in 2015, how many will they bring to 2016? Since all those who voted in 2015 can nominate in 2016, I imagine it will be a big number. Even so, I can’t imagine carrying 100% over—the nomination stage is simply less interesting, less publicized, and more difficult to vote in. Let’s imagine three scenarios: an 80% scenario, a 60% scenario, and a 40% scenario. I think 80% is the most likely; this is the group most invested in impacting the Hugos and the most likely to team up again. And since they don’t have to pay an entry fee to participate in the nomination stage . . .

I also think this group will have solid slate discipline, voting the list as Vox Day published it. If you want to factor in some slate decay, I’d do so for lesser known books like Agent of the Imperium. I won’t bother with any decay in the model. With that in mind, here’s my three scenarios the following chart:

550 max Rabid Puppies
Scenario 40% 60% 80%
Total Votes 220 330 440
Ancillary Mercy
The Fifth Season
Seveneves 220 330 440
Golden Son 220 330 440
Somewhither 220 330 440
The Aeronaut’s Windlass 220 330 440
Agent of the Imperium 220 330 440
Honor At Stake
A Long Time Until Now

A pretty simple model and not terribly informative so far. What you’ll glean from this is that the Rabid Puppies are likely to deliver a large block of votes to the works on their list. When we combine this chart with the estimated chart from the Typical vote and the Sad Puppy vote, that’s when we’ll be in business.

The core question is whether or not this block will be larger than other voting groups. In more lightly voted categories like Best Related Work or categories where the vote is more dispersed like Best Short Story, 400 votes is likely enough to sweep all or most of the ballot. Think about Best Related Work: the highest non-Puppy pick last year managed only around 100 votes. The top non-Puppy short story only managed 76 votes last year. Even if you triple those this year, you’re still well under 400 votes. In a more popular category like Best Novel or Best Dramatic Work, I expect the impact to be substantial but not sweeping. Perhaps 3 out of 5? 2 out of 5?

In 2015, the Rabid Puppies placed 4 out of their 5 picks on the initial Hugo ballot (Correia and Kloos declined, leaving them with only 2 spots). They were this successful partially due to their overlap with the Sad Puppies on those 4 choices. This year, the overlap is less (only 3), so I expect the effect to be less. Even with first mover advantage—remember, the Puppies took the 2015 ballot largely by surprise—Ann Leckie still had enough votes to break up the Puppy sweep in 2015. I fully expect some non-Puppy novels to show up on the final ballot.

How does this number compare to last year’s nomination vote? My best estimate of the Rabid Puppy 2015 nomination vote comes from the Rabid Puppy pick that placed #9, Brad Torgesen’s Chaplain’s War with 196 votes. Now, Torgersen could have received a number of votes outside the Rabid Puppy process, but other solo Rabid Puppy picks like the John C. Wright novellas earned in the range of 150 votes. This year’s estimate would double to triple that vote. Is this reasonable? I’ll leave that in your hands. Has the year-long controversy, with thousands of blog posts, increased the Rabid Puppies to the range of 400-500 votes? Controversy tends to drive strong reactions on both sides. Or is there a top limit to Rabid Puppy support? How would you calculate that? Is this roughly 200-400 votes enough to sweep a lot of categories? Or will the typical vote also triple, making this year much more competitive? Since the Rabid Puppies overlap with the Sad Puppies on several picks, are those novels a sure thing? What band do you expect the Rabid Puppies to be in, 40%, 60%, 80%, or something else?

Tomorrow, I’ll wade into the typical vote. Be warned!


9 responses to “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 2”

  1. Semiba says :

    I really don’t think you’re going to see the cohesion your expecting from the Sad Puppies, IMO. I would factor in some serious decay there.

  2. Nate says :

    I see no way to calculate a top limit to the rabid puppy support, due to the fact that it must be assumed that some sad puppies will have turned rabid based on their perception of their treatment.

    I think the lower limit is easier to estimate… and I would start with the Vile Faceless Minions. I would put the floor at or near the number of VFM.

    Also… I note the nominations website is having a lot of trouble today… hrm….

    • chaoshorizon says :

      I’m pretty conservative in my estimates on Chaos Horizon; I try to consistently apply that methodology. I’m going to release my worksheet forms once I finish this series, so anyone can put their own data in and make their own estimates.

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