Nadine Dorries: wrong about voting numbers

Nadine Dorries is getting a lot of airtime for her comment that “more people vote on X Factor and I’m a Celebrity than vote in general elections”. Which is a shame, since it’s utter nonsense.

The 2010 series of the X Factor saw 15,448,019 votes cast (source). I’m a Celebrity, which receives similar ratings, doesn’t seem to release the total number of votes cast, but I can’t imagine that it’s many more. Let’s assume, generously and on no evidence, that I’m A Celebrity has 10% more people voting than X Factor. That makes a bit more than 32 million votes cast overall.

But those votes are cast over multiple episodes, and you can vote repeatedly from week to week (and indeed vote multiple times). Not everyone will vote every week, but some people must or the results show would be Dermot O’Leary standing around looking embarrassed (and Simon Cowell with no money).

So let us – generous again – assume that half the total votes are cast in the final, because that’s when excitement peaks. On our numbers, that still only makes 16,220,421 individual votes in that week.

So, if we:

  • make wildly generous assumptions on voting,
  • and on who votes when,
  • and assume that those generous assumptions apply to I’m a Celebrity as well as X Factor,
  • and assume that no-one who votes in one show votes in the other

we have the highest remotely plausible number of people who could vote in X Factor and I’m a Celebrity, which is 16.2 million.

How many votes were cast in the UK General Election in 2010? 29,687,604.

Isn’t it a shame neither the BBC nor ITV could manage to spot that Dorries’ self-justification was hopelessly, stupidly wrong?

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Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

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