We’re down to the final episode. This one is for all the marbles. Wait, that’s not the best saying in this context. In any case, moving right along. In the top four episode, Detox was eliminated, but not after Roxxxy threw maybe ALL of the shade towards Jinkx (although, to Roxxxy’s credit, she says a lot of this was due to editing).
Jinkx, however, defended herself well by absolutely killing the lipsync. Probably one of the top three of the season, easy.
Getting down to the wire, it’s looking incredibly close. As it is, the model has ceased to tell us anything of value. Here are the rankings:
1 Alaska 0.6050052 1.6752789 2 Roxxxy Andrews 2.5749070 3.6076899 3 Jinkx Monsoon 3.4666713 3.2207345
But looking at the confidence intervals, all three estimates are statistically indistinguishable from zero. The remaining girls don’t have sufficient variation on the variables of interest to differentiate them from each other in terms of winning this thing.
So what’s drag race forecaster to do? Well, the first thought that came to my mind was — MOAR DATA. And hunty, there’s one place where I’ve got data by the troves — Twitter.
The rationale behind looking at Twitter is this — in the final instance, RuPaul’s going to want to crown a crowd pleaser. Although they film the entire season before the first episode even airs, I imagine Ru and the producers have some kind of a narrative built for each queen as the season progresses. They have a sense of who’s going to be a hit and who is going to rile the masses if they get the crown, either by a queen mother’s intuition, internal focus groups, or whatever. I honestly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they tape different outcomes and air the one that most closely accords to popular opinion based on polling and the kind of analysis I’m presenting below. More likely, though, is that they edit the show in such a way that comports with the type of narrative that they want to portray, which doesn’t bode well for Roxxxy. The basic point is that although we don’t know the internals at Logo, we do know that they probably want to have a crowd-pleasing outcome. Last season, they filmed the whole she-bang and then allowed for two weeks of audience input via the social media to crown the winner. I don’t know if that’s what’ll happen this season, but I can imagine a twist. For now, we’re going to proceed as if they will crown a winner tomorrow.
Twitter’s been used with some success in judging public opinion (although see this Pew Center report). I do think that the population of people who watch Drag Race are savvy enough such that looking at Twitter provides a somewhat accurate portrayal of their opinion. Given the thorough integration of hashtags into the average Drag Race episode, I think Logo and World of Wonder think the same.
Data – As part of my work with the Social Media and Democracy group in Wisconsin’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, we’ve been collecting on Twitter’s gardenhose — a 10% random sample of Twitter — for nearly a year. It’s a lot of data: hovering now around 9 TB, about 30 million tweets a day. Somewhere in there there’s going to be some #DragRace fans. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I haven’t been collecting #DragRace tweets all season. But there’s always next season.
First, let’s look at the hourly volume of mentions of each queen’s Twitter username since the beginning of April till Saturday (April 20). I restricted it to mentions of their username because this was the most unambiguous way of addressing each queen, and this yielded the most in occurrence.
It’s a bit of a mess, but you can make out that each of the major peaks, except the last one, is a Monday. The last case is an anomaly, where people are going Gaga for Alaska, so I’ll get to that one at end. Overall, it’s not really clear what’s happening here because tweets are really bunched together. So let’s look at what’s happening each Monday.
April 1 (Episode 9) – Drama Queens
This is the telenovela episode. Jinkx wins the challenge while Alyssa gets eliminated. Around 9 PM EDT, Jinkx and Alyssa seem close, then Alyssa jumps in tweets at 10 PM. Alyssa, despite getting eliminated at this point, had somewhat of a following, as far as I can tell. I imagine there is a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth here. Looking at the tweets seems to be right. Most are like this:
— Matthew Carenza (@mattwiz13) April 2, 2013
April 8 (Episode 10) – Super Troopers
In this episode, the queens had to drag up some vets. Roxxxy wins this challenge, while Coco gets the chop. But for some reason, neither of them show up a lot. Instead, Detox has the highest volume of tweets, followed by Jinkx. I looked through all the tweets from the two hours during the show, and although no clear pattern came out for Detox, Jinkx gets a lot of love for her partnership with the older vet:
— Danielle Monsoon (@MartiniMonsoon) April 9, 2013
April 15 (Episode 11) – Sugar Ball
Last week, the queens had to make costumes out of candy and do the little group ditty. Alaska won and Detox went home. But the top two queens in volume were Jinkx and Roxxxy. And if you look back at the first graph, this is the Monday that has the most tweets of any of them. Looks like it’s both Jinkx and Roxxxy love, although Roxxxy is getting some shade thrown at her too.
@jinkxmonsoon if you go home I will cry and stop watching drag race. Ralaskatox is horrible. I love you so much. <3
— Hannah (@Hannahhot1399) April 16, 2013
— Benjamin__MC18 (@bengarcia143) April 16, 2013
So all-in-all, it looks like there are more mentions of queens when it’s positive, all though there are some pretty shady Drag Race fans out there. This isn’t terribly surprising — I figure you’re more likely to subtweet somebody if you are throwin’ shade. Also, here is a free article idea: “Throwin’ Shade: The Dynamics of Subtweeting Behavior” (if you write this article I demand citation).
Weird Alaska bump this week
So that’s what’s happening with all the mentions of queens. But what’s up with the weird Alaska bump this past week? I think it’s mostly because of this tweet.
I will follow those who tweet a quote from the golden girls and/or the birdcage.
— Alaska Thunderfuck (@Alaska5000) April 19, 2013
The Next Drag Superstar?
So does this tell us much about who’s gonna win it? Well, let’s sum up all the counts across time.
@jinkxmonsoon 1258 @theonlydetox 919 @alaska5000 879 @roxxxyandrews 689 @alyssaedwards_1 608 @cocomontrese 262
Of the queens remaining, Jinkx is heads and shoulders above everyone else. Detox is next, followed closely by Alaska. Roxxxy has nearly half the volume of Jinkx.
So what’s the call, here? Hard to say. Seems like for sure Roxxxy won’t be in the top two. Jinkx has an immense fan following, but Alaska has enough of a following that I could see her taking the crown. Dilettwat, after much consideration, switched her prediction from Jinkx to Alaska. Homoviper, however, has had Jinkx on top for the last five episodes.
May the best woman win!