Inside the 2011 Hugo Voting Statistics

Hugo Awards Administrator Vincent Docherty has posted his report of the 2011 voting statistics [PDF file] at the Hugo Awards site. There are tables showing the progress of the automatic runoffs in each category, and lists of runners-up from the nominating phase that reveal for the first time who else nearly made the final ballot. Here are some things that caught my eye.

Hugo Bleeps: A Hugo winner must get a majority of the votes. If, at the end of the first round, the nominee with the most first place votes hasn’t topped 50% there is a runoff. The lowest ranking nominee’s votes are redistributed to the people’s second choice (or next highest choice still in the runoff). The process repeats until someone or something gets a majority. The runoff in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category illustrates how this works.

Rachel Bloom’s music video F*** Me, Ray Bradbury led after the first round with 366 first place votes. Fans of Doctor Who had scattered their votes among three nominated episodes but they generally ranked every Doctor Who entry ahead of Bloom’s song, so although Bloom led through the early elimination rounds she was destined to lose.

Collectively, No Award and the first two Doctor Who episodes to be eliminated received 535 first place votes. When they were redistributed in subsequent rounds FMRB picked up only 45 of these votes, while Doctor Who:The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang gathered in 296 and moved into first place.

Still, none of the three nominees left in the runoff had achieved a majority. The Lost Thing was eliminated next: its votes broke 152 for Doctor Who and 106 for FMRB, sealing a win for the Doctor.

(By the way, can anybody explain why, when clips from the Best Dramatic Presentation nominees were shown during the Hugo Ceremony, FMRB was cut off right before Rachel Bloom sang the title phrase? The unexpurgated title was all over the video screen and freely used by the presenter. It seemed strange that anyone was so demure about editing the clip.)

The Closest Races: The tightest races this year were in the two artist categories.

Brad Foster won the Best Fan Artist Hugo by a single vote over Randall Munroe. Foster trailed far behind Munroe in every round until Maurine Starkey was eliminated. When her votes were redistributed they broke 99 for Foster and 42 for Munroe, a wave of support that was just enough to put Foster over the top.

The Best Professional Artist category was not as dramatic but it was close, with Shaun Tan edging Daniel Dos Santos by 14 votes.

Can’t Explain It: When File 770 got eliminated from the runoff in the Best Fanzine category, 36 of its votes went to StarShip Sofa, 96 to The Drink Tank. I was croggled to discover anyone who’d vote for File 770 would rank StarShip Sofa ahead of Chris Garcia’s fanzine. Another stereotype bites the dust.

No Award: Voters cast 870 ballots in the Best Fanzine category but 110 had No Award in first place. That was just about the weakest showing overall. No Award votes by category:

Best Novel 37, Novella 57, Novelette 57, Short Story 86, Related Work 46, Graphic Story 70, BDP Long 55, BDP Short 85,  Best Editor Short 67, Best Editor Long 91, Best Professional Artist 37, Best Semiprozine 56, Best Fanzine 110, Best Fanwriter 133, Best Fanartist 134

Altogether, five Hugo nominees received fewer first place votes than No Award — 2 in Best Editor Long Form, 1 in Best Fanzine, 1 in Best Fan Writer and 1 in Best Fan Artist.

The Missing Short Story: The report of nominating votes revealed the unlucky author of the fifth Best Short Story nominee which was ruled out of competition by the 5% rule: “Elegy for a Young Elk” by Hannu Rajaniemi (4.85%).

Dramatic Anticlimaxes: I was interested to see that Metropolis (2010 restoration) got as many as 18 nominating votes, regardless that it fell far short of the final ballot.

On the other hand, no one will be surprised to learn that besides the 3 Doctor Who episodes which made the final ballot in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, another 4 episodes were among the next 6 works getting the most nominating votes.

More Bang for the Buck: There were 7 nominees for Best Professional Editor, Long Form instead of the usual 5 this year, and everyone knew the extra ones had to be the product of a tie for fifth place.

Now we know the rest of the story. David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden declined nomination in the Best Professional Editor, Long Form category after receiving sufficient votes to qualify. Their gracious gesture ended up lifting not two but three other editors onto the final ballot — a trio originally tied for 7th place.

Fanzines Without Pages: How did non-magazine contenders for the Best Fanzine Hugo fare? Podcasts receiving significant nominating votes besides StarShip Sofa were Jonathan Strahan’s Notes from Coode Street blog and podcast (6th, just 1 vote shy of reaching the final ballot) and Galactic Suburbia (10th). Website SF Signal ranked 11th.

Just Missed: Dave Langford’s Ansible and Cheryl Morgan’s Salon Futura were the two semiprozines receiving the most nominating votes, apart from the five finalists.

In the Best Fan Artist category, Spring Schoenhuth came within one vote of making the final ballot (which would have tied her with Randall Munroe). She is a popular Bay Area jewelry maker, designer of the Campbell Pin and has written for The Drink Tank.

5 thoughts on “Inside the 2011 Hugo Voting Statistics

  1. Best Fan Writer was closer than Best Professional Artist, with Claire winning by 6 votes. At no point did anyone lead by more than 10 votes.
    That race (and Professional artist) both saw some see-sawing in who lead (it changed twice for Artist, 3 times for Fan Writer).

  2. Can’t Explain It: When File 770 got eliminated from the runoff in the Best Fanzine category, 36 of its votes went to StarShip Sofa, 96 to The Drink Tank. I was croggled to discover anyone who’d vote for File 770 would rank StarShip Sofa ahead of Chris Garcia’s fanzine. Another stereotype bites the dust.

    This is, to be sure, entirely speculative of me, but I think it’s not unreasonable to assume that a fair number of those voters are familiar with more than the paper edition, although perhaps most know you through efanzines.

    But since “or the equivalent in other media” material is now ineligible for Best Fanzine, if I correctly understand the changes made at this Business Meeting (which must be ratified next year, of course, to take effect), than theoretically material here shouldn’t be counted, should it?

  3. “3.3.13: Best Fanzine. Any generally available non-professional periodical publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, which does not qualify as a fancast and which in the previous calendar year met neither of the following criteria:
    (1) paid its contributors and/or staff monetarily,
    (2) was generally available only for paid purchase,”

    What defines a “periodical”?

    For example, I don’t know of any blog that’s not periodical. Online “periodical” clearly distinguishes between somethings that streams non-stop, and anything that is published in discrete blocs, which is to say, everything else. But beyond that?

  4. @Gary: Well, my Bing search “periodical defined” returned this entry from the Encarta World English Dictionary: “1. magazine: a magazine or journal published at regular intervals, especially weekly, monthly, or quarterly.” Your dictionary’s mileage may vary, of course.

    To me it seems silly for anyone who was fine with having the undefined term “equivalent in other media” in the rule (a term now deleted) to pretend to be mystified by the effect of adding the word “periodical.” What if Rich Lynch hadn’t added that word? Would it have been more or less clear that the changes are intended to reinstitute the category boundaries in effect as recently as 2008? Surely you don’t think Rich added “periodical” to make it easier to nominate blogs and websites?

  5. @Gary: Material that only appears here, yes. But as you know, I carry over some of the blog material (especially obits, fannish news, and news analysis) to the periodical (ook ook) zine, where it is presented together with a substantial amount of newly-published material.

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