Who's the Nate Silver of Picked to Click 2012?

So, how many of you actually could predict this was going to happen?
So, how many of you actually could predict this was going to happen?
Photo by Emily Utne

Many among us have heard the name Nate Silver a lot in recent weeks leading up to the U.S. Presidential Election. He's the number-cruncher who very closely predicted which state's Electoral College votes would go for Barack Obama and which would end up in Mitt Romney's paws. Googling "Nate Silver map side by side" might crash your browser at this point because this guy has received so many plaudits.

Silver's impressive accuracy got us wondering if Picked to Click, our yearly best new local bands poll, could ever be projected with that level of precision. The short answer: Not yet. There's not a single person in the Twin Cities who predicted the top five for Picked to Click with their ballot, or with any other sort of statistical model that we're aware of. But a few people came very, very close.

See Also:
Picked to Click 2012: The best comments
Picked to Click 2012: By the numbers
Picked to Click 2012: Ballots and Winners

While Gimme Noise got high marks on the AP Statistics standardized test in high school -- but ended up with his head on his desk during the "mathmatical induction" unit -- this analysis is not nearly as rigorous as anything Silver did. But it does provide some food for thought. Also, it gave us some thoughts on some hilarious "states" providing electoral votes you could plot on a map -- writers, bookers, radio personalities, Twitter stars, bloggers who hate City Pages, etc.

Just to get us back acquainted, here are the top 10 finishers in the 2012 Picked to Click:

1. The Chalice 83 points
2. Pony Trash 78 points
3. John Mark Nelson 71 points
3. Wiping Out Thousands 71 points
5. Heavy Deeds 63 points
6. Actual Wolf 58 points
7. Strange Names 39 points
8. Observer Drift 36 points
9. Prissy Clerks 34 points
10. Audio Perm 32 points

I looked at all 146 ballots submitted and applied a simple subtraction formula to figure out which entries most closely resembled the end results. For example, if you voted for winner the Chalice at number one, you assess no points, but if you put them at number five, you'd get four points.

Here's a fake ballot, with the actual finish of the artist (ties are taken into account), to make the point:

1. Cactus Blossoms (19) = 18 points
2. Greg Grease (27) = 25
3. Arby (74) = 71
4. Adam Bubolz (92) = 88
5. Actual Wolf Lords (254) = 249
Total: 451

Note: With nearly 300 artists receiving votes, most people's ballots get "scores" in this range -- or even higher -- and it speaks to the diversity of opinions among the voters.

The ballots with the lowest number of points, AKA the closest to the end results, are featured below. You may recognize some of these names. We also noted how many of their voted artists ranked in the Picked to Click top ten.

Kyle Matteson, AKA @Solace and a guy who attends a lot of concerts:
1. John Mark Nelson (3)   
2. Wiping Out Thousands (3)  
3. Actual Wolf (6)   
4. Pony Trash (2)   
5. Strange Names (7)

Total: 10 points (5/5 from the top ten)

Sonia Grover, First Avenue booker:
1. John Mark Nelson (3)   
2. Heavy Deeds (5)   
3. Actual Wolf (6)   
4. Strange Names (7)   
5. Wiping Out Thousands (3)

Total: 12 points (5/5 from the top ten)

David Safar, 89.3 the Current music director (votes not in order):
3. Strange Names (7)   
3. John Mark Nelson (3)   
3. The Chalice (1)   
3. Actual Wolf (6)   
3. Prissy Clerks (9)

Total: 15 points (5/5 from the top ten)

Andrea Swensson, 89.3 the Current music reporter (votes not in order):
3. Bomba de Luz (12)   
3. Wiping Out Thousands (3)   
3. The Chalice (1)   
3. Strange Names (7)   
3. Actual Wolf (6)

Total: 18 points (4/5 from the top ten)

Jade Tittle, 89.3 the Current assistant producer:
1. Wiping Out Thousands (3)   
2. John Mark Nelson (3)   
3. Van Stee (13)   
4. Strange Names (7)  
5. The Chalice (1)

Total: 20 points (4/5 from the top ten)

Pat O'Brien, AKA @BrokenHalo and Gimme Noise contributor:
1. Wiping Out Thousands (3)   
2. Van Stee (13)   
3. Actual Wolf (6)   
4. Pony Trash (2)   
5. A. Wolf & Her Claws (11)

Total: 24 points (3/5 from the top ten)

Barb Abney, 89.3 the Current host:
1. A. Wolf & Her Claws (11)   
2. The Chalice (1)   
3. Actual Wolf (6)   
4. Van Stee (13)   
5. Strange Names (7)

Total: 25 points (3/5 from the top ten)

Jim McGuinn, 89.3 the Current program director:
1. Actual Wolf (6)   
2. John Mark Nelson (3)  
3. The Chalice (1)   
4. Van Stee (13)   
5. Y.N. Rich Kids (14)

Total: 27 points (3/5 from the top ten)

David Campbell, 89.3 the Current host:
1. The Chalice (1)   
2. Wolf Lords (22)   
3. Strange Names (7)   
4. John Mark Nelson (3)   
5. Prissy Clerks (9)

Total: 29 points (4/5 from the top ten)

A few thoughts on these numbers:
- No one on this list, aside from David Campbell, put the Chalice as their number one. Six of these nine people work at the Current, but David Safar was the only among them voter to have a ballot with five artists from the top ten and have the Chalice incuded.

- Several more folks would've appeared on this list if it hadn't been for one or two extreme outlier artists.

- It appears Wolf Lords and A. Wolf & Her Claws split the vote for Aby Wolf-related projects.

- Van Stee received the most votes of any artist not to receive a first-place vote.

-Two top ten finishers, Observer Drift (8) and Audio Perm (10), didn't show up on any of these ballots.

- Choosing to submit an unranked ballot (3 points each instead of 1-5 points) can have a huge effect on the final results.

- A total of 13 bands show up on these nine ballots:
Seven ballots: Actual Wolf (22 points assigned), Strange Names (17 points assigned)
Six ballots: John Mark Nelson (23 points assigned), the Chalice (19 points assigned)
Five ballots: Wiping Out Thousands (18 points assigned)
Four ballots: Van Stee (11 points assigned)
Two ballots: Prissy Clerks (2 points assigned), Pony Trash (4 points assigned), A. Wolf & Her Claws (6 points assigned)
One ballot: YN Rich Kids (1 point assigned), Wolf Lords (4 points assigned), Heavy Deeds (4 points assigned), and Bomba de Luz (3 points assigned).

Thus, the rankings (actual placement in parenthesis) based upon these nine ballots would look like this:
1. (3) John Mark Nelson
2. (6) Actual Wolf
3. (1) The Chalice
4. (3) Wiping Out Thousands
5. (7) Strange Names
6. (12) Van Stee
7. (11) A. Wolf & Her Claws
8.(tie) Wolf Lords, Heavy Deeds, Pony Trash
11. Bomba de Luz
12. Prissy Clerks
13. Y.N. Rich Kids

Next, we decided to find out what would happen if these ballots were removed from the 2012 totals. See the results on the next page.
Subtract these nine ballots from the actual 2012 tally (that number in parenthesis) and you get:

1. (2) Pony Trash: 74 points
2. (1) The Chalice: 64 points
3. (5) Heavy Deeds: 59 points
4. (3) Wiping Out Thousands: 53 points
5. (3) John Mark Nelson: 48 points
6.(tie) (6) Actual Wolf: 36 points
6.(tie) (8) Observer Drift: 36 points*
8.(tie) (9) Prissy Clerks: 32 points
8.(tie) (10) Audio Perm: 32 points*
10.(tie) (14) Y.N. Rich Kids: 26 points
10.(tie) (15) Apollo Cobra: 26 points*
10.(tie) (15) The Velveteens: 26 points*
13.(tie) (12) Bomba de Luz: 25 points
13.(tie) (17) All Eyes: 25 points*
15.(tie) (11) A. Wolf & Her Claws: 23 points
15.(tie) (18) Sean Anonymous: 23 points*
17. (7) Strange Names: 22 points

*Received no votes on any of the nine ballots.

So, changing the ballots would've put Pony Trash on our cover instead of the Chalice, but the top five remains the same, only in slightly different order. As you can see, taking out these nine ballots has the most detrimental effect on Strange Names, as they drop handily out of the top ten. And based upon our system for ties, this would push Y.N. Rich Kids, Apollo Cobra, and the Velveteens into a revised top "ten" (actually 12).

Just for fun, we decided to compare the results to the predictions made by Picked to Click's biggest fans, the guys from Reviler. We scored them the same way we scored the above ballots. They actually did pretty well in calling the eventual top ten

Josh Keller
1. Wiping Out Thousands (3)
2. John Mark Nelson (3)
3. The Chalice (1)
4. Pony Trash (2)
5. The Japhies (41)
6. Prissy Clerks (9)
7. Actual Wolf (6)
8. Fire in the Northern Firs (74)
9. Strange Names (7)
10. Atmosphere (ha!)

Total: 115 + infinity because Atmosphere didn't show up in the results (7/10 from the top ten)

Jon Behm
1. YN Rich Kids (14)
2. Strange Names (7)
3. Wiping Out Thousands (3)
4. John Mark Nelson (3)
5. Pony Trash (2)
6. Claire De Lune (74)
7. The Chalice (1)
8. Actual Wolf (6)
9. Malamanya (83)
10. Nallo (92)

Total: 242 points (6/10 from the top ten)

Adam Bubolz
1. YN Rich Kids (14)
2. Actual Wolf (6)
3. John Mark Nelson (3)
4. Wiping Out Thousands (3)
5. The Chalice (1)
6. Prissy Clerks (9)
7. Fire in the Northern Firs (74)
8. Claire De Lune (74)
9. Pony Trash (2)
10. Heavy Deeds (5)

Total: 170 points (7/10 from the top ten)

- So, aside from overvaluing Nallo, Fire in the Northern Firs, Claire de Lune (also in the Chalice), Y.N. Rich Kids, the Japhies, and Atmosphere, these guys all came very close to naming the top ten. Keller's top four is pretty impressive.

Final Thoughts:
So, did we actually learn anything today? A little bit, perhaps. First of all, it's pretty clear that local artists should get their demos in the hands of Sonia Grover and David Safar, should try to open for bands that Kyle and Pat like, and should avoid pissing off people on the Modern Radio Messageboard. But is any of that really a huge revelation? 

If anything, the above statistical wonkery proves Picked to Click is nowhere close to being predicted perfectly. Some acts get a huge bump from the press or radio play -- Van Stee, on the other hand, got plenty of Current-related votes, but not enough attention from other folks -- and acts like Audio Perm and Observer Drift garner attention from other electoral blocs that are slightly tougher to put a fence (with a gate) around.

Any way you skew it, a lot of Picked to Click voters liked the Chalice and Pony Trash -- two groups that couldn't be more different stylistically, but both have members who have made noise in other acts too. To win, wide appeal is essential they both achieved it in the past 12 months.

Without a regular systematic polling system that exists for national elections instituted for Picked to Click, there's not really a way to crunch the numbers just yet. Although, if you created a metric for blog coverage, prominent show placements, and spins on local-centric radio shows, it would still be only part of the picture. (Any Econ majors in the peanut gallery are welcome to prove me wrong.)

Aside from the nine ballots we looked at today, let's leave with the consideration that 137 other opinions still had to come to play to determine these results. So far, there's not quite yet a formula for "I just love this band no matter what everyone else is saying."

Please let us know your thoughts on this Silver-izing of the data. This is not the end of the conversation.

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