As many of you know, the Oscars are just a day away! These very creative maps represent a playful attempt to predict the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture. The winner of each state was determined using Google Keyword Trends, and votes were assigned to the winner based on the number of movie screens in each state. This method of voting is based on the Electoral College used to elect the president!* States in blue represent a win for Lincoln, those in gold indicate a win for Argo, and those in gray represent a tie. The left-hand map uses data from the past 90 days, while the right-hand map uses data from the past 30 days. The most interesting feature of the maps is the marked difference between them. The left-hand map shows Lincoln winning the Oscar comfortably, with a tally of 361 votes to 173 for Argo. However, the more recent data suggests a reversal, with 287 votes for Argo and 227 for Lincoln. This change indicates that Argo has become more popular recently, while Lincoln has had more long-term appeal. The patterns of popularity are also very intriguing. Lincoln has consistently had the upper hand in parts of the Southeast, Middle Atlantic, Texas, Utah, Oregon, Michigan, and Ohio, while Argo has been most successful in the Northeast, West Coast, and parts of the middle of the country. Other than these strongholds for the two “candidates,” Argo has taken control of much of the country in the past 30 days. Many states in the Midwest, West, and South that were once blue are now gold. On the other hand, No states that were gold in the left-hand map reversed their decision in the right-hand map, indicating that Lincoln has been unable to make any forward progress recently. Another notable feature is that the number of states in which there is a tie has more than quintupled, from 2 states to 11. This suggests that the race has become much closer in the last month. Although these maps are very interesting, I am not sure that they are very useful. The popularity of each movie does not seem to relate to the political inclination of each state; both Lincoln and Argo are popular in traditionally red and blue states.* Thus, it is difficult to explain the patterns exhibited by the maps. In addition, the method used to create the maps likely will prevent them from making an accurate prediction. The Academy Awards are decided by the votes of the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This means that the popularity of each film with the general public does not necessarily have an impact on its chances of winning the Oscar. In spite of this flaw, the maps are very original, thoughtful, and intriguing. Besides, half of the fun of awards shows is predicting who will win! (I will update this post tomorrow with the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture. Wouldn’t it be ironic if neither Lincoln nor Argo won?)
*See http://peoplecartographer.tumblr.com/post/35377370704/this-map-conveys-the-results-of-the-recent#notes for a map of the 2012 Electoral College results!
Update: Argo won Best Picture! (No surprise there.) Ang Lee won Best Director for Life of Pi, Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor in a Leading Role for Lincoln, and Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress in a Leading Role for Silver Linings Playbook. The Oscars were really well done this year!