Much has been made of the USA finishing “last” in the vote for hosting the 2016 olympics. Partisan pundits are pontificating ad nauseam that the last place finish is a failure of the current administration. The truth is, that the USA suffered the same fate as Chris Daughtry. For those of you who don’t remember (or care), Chris Daughtry was the heavily favored American Idol finalist who was sent packing before the final round. It’s not that Daughtry didn’t have backing, he was the victim of a flawed voting system.
The problem lies in the fact that the voting mechanism is binary while the field is multiple choice. What I mean by that is that you’re voting for 1 choice but not compared to another. If the IOC ran the vote like a playoff system (i.e. USA vs. Tokyo and Rio vs. Madrid, then winner vs. winner) it most likely would have come down to USA vs. Rio. Instead, you end up with a situation where you have a pool of voters who are predisposed to vote for their favorite and you’ll get a fairly even distribution of votes. The others, who are between the top 2 contenders are usually swayed by a single issue. My hunch is that in this instance it was the fact that South America had never hosted the Olympics. So, those people who are swayed by a single issue vote for Rio. The result is that USA comes in “last” place due to a statistical distribution, not because they had the least-favored bid.
The same thing happened to Chris Daughtry. Folks calling to vote had one vote to spend in a three vote field, so they spent that vote trying to achieve the top 2 of 3 that they wanted. Feeling that Daughtry was a shoe-in, they voted for Taylor Hicks to eliminate the McPhever. However, the net result was that heavily favored Chris Daughtry received the least amount of votes and was sent home early.
I find the celebration of negativity befalling our country by those who purport to love it distasteful to begin with, but the fact that they are using a statistical anomaly as the basis of their celebration is even harder for me to swallow.