Marta and I have been working for sometimes on a cool (as well as kind of very low impact on the scientific community and on the progress of human understanding of the world) model to estimate the voting patterns in the Eurovision contest.
Here in the UK, there’s always a lot of furore and the underlying understanding that England don’t win because the other countries gang up against them. OK: may be this is not a big issue any more, since Sir Terry has indeed quit; but it normally pops up again in the tabloids after every contest when the English representative (invariably) ends up in the bottom part of the table. (Incidentally: may this have to do with the fact that a) the contest is quite crappy anyway; and b) England keep sending some weirdo up against a bunch of hot Eastern European girls?).
Anyway, long story short: we’ve run a few models. Basically the idea is to use a Bayesian hierarchical structure to investigate whether voting is driven by social and/or geographical patterns. Our main model includes structured cultural effects (identified by the “region” to which each voter belongs to), as well as geographical effects (modelled using a spatial structure, so that neighbouring countries tend to be more correlated).
We haven’t quite had time to completely figure out what is actually going on. There definitely is an element to it, but rather than bias _against _countries, we seem to see some (natural?) inclination to vote culturally and geographically (not very exciting, you may say… well, at least it does make sense, right?).
I’ll post some graphs when I think I know a bit better what’s the punchline. The paper is on the way as well (but of course, I’m terribly late on the tight schedule that General Marta has prepared $-$ she probably won’t be very happy about me spending time blogging about it, rather than doing it…)