You probably remember hearing the name “Nate Silver” during the 2012 election. A writer and statistician, Silver correctly predicted how 49 of the 50 states would vote in the presidential elections that saw Barack Obama earn a landslide victory.
Since then, Silver has been poached by ESPN to work his analytic magic, and he does so for FiveThirtyEight, a polling website for which he serves as editor-in-chief. The site, creatively named for how many votes there are in the electoral college, takes on polling data for just about everything: sports, politics, and now Star Wars.
That’s right: Nate Silver’s data analysis now touches on those six films and all of its well-loved characters, as well as Jar Jar Binks. Recently, one of the site’s staff writers opened a poll that asked movie viewers, among other questions, which characters they liked best from the franchise. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most favorably rated character of all was Luke Skywalker, with a 93% favorability rating. Just beneath him was Han Solo, who pulled in a 92% score. Earning the bronze were Princess Leia, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Yoda, all of whom received a 91% favorability rating.
As I previously alluded, Jar Jar Binks received the distinct dishonor of receiving last place in the poll with a favorability rating of just 29%. He falls behind Emperor Palpatine, who, as you’ll remember, is actually the most evil person in the galaxy. Earning double the amount of favorability points as Binks is Darth Vader, with a 58% favorability. Remember this number; we’ll be coming back to it shortly.
Political Popularity Poll
It’s probably not earth-shattering to any Star Wars fan how these numbers panned out. What is interesting, though, is how The Washington Post chose to use these numbers in a piece that compared these characters’ likeability to the potential candidates in the 2016 elections, as well as with other politicians, figureheads, and Congress itself. Frontrunners like Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee: if you’re reading this, you might have to take a nice long vacation to get other the shock of being named less popular than Darth Vader.
It’s true. You can blow up a planet and still be well-liked in comparison to modern American politicians.
According to their political data, Clinton is polling the highest in terms of favorability, but she’s just below Darth Vader and tied with Boba Fett. Just below her are Huckabee, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. They narrowly beat out Emperor Palpatine, although it appears as though former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan would lose to the axis of Star Wars evil. Then again, so would the likes of Chris Christie, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Jeb Bush.
Then, of course, there’s Jar Jar Binks. As if we haven’t hammered this point home enough, everyone hates Jar Jar Binks. He’s the least-liked character in the galaxy, and yet he could still probably win a 2016 election, according to The Washington Post. His numbers are higher than Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell as well as the U.S. Congress itself.
The Washington Post combined Jar Jar Binks’ favorability rating with his dislikability rating, which was a 37. This gives him a -8 net favorability rating, the lowest possible ranking in all the galaxy – unless the galaxy had a congressional body, presumably. Our Congress has racked up an impressive -65 net favorability rating among the American people. Imagine that: Our Congress is more than eight times less popular than Jar Jar Binks.
It’s no shock that people might be a bit miffed when it comes to our country’s lawmaking body, but what do you think? Are they right or wrong for making Jar Jar Binks look like a star in comparison? And is it wrong for us to get all legalistic and numbers-driven about a beloved franchise? Share your opinion on any of FiveThirtyEight or The Washington Post’s findings in the comment section below.
[Written by contributor Daniel Faris]