The Top 3 tracker is a long view of the contest, trying to figure out who will end up in the Top 3 based on the current standings. It works in a similar way to the finals model, but rather than week-to-week, it looks at historical information to decide who most looks like a Top 3 contestant.
Here is the Top 3 tracker over time:
The Top 3 still looks like Jena, Caleb, and Alex, though the race tightened somewhat this week. Jena has been above 80% for four weeks now, and is the only contestant to be above 80% in any week except Alex after the Top 8 redux. Caleb is steady, and Alex fell slightly—the model was worried about him this week, and so he was downgraded.
Jessica, down after last week where she was in the bottom 2, rose a little bit, as did Sam. Sam has been up and down all year, whereas Jessica has been quite consistent, but rated significantly lower than any frontrunner. She has work to do to catch up.
To visualize the historical data, I have plotted as points the model elimination probability versus whether or not the person made the Top 3. If the person is near the top, he or she made the Top 3, and if that person is near the bottom, he or she did not make it. Some vertical jitter has been added so that points can be easily seen. Mouse over a dot to see which person in Idol history it corresponds to. The black curve is the theoretical probability of making it to the Top 3 versus the model elimination probability. The green dots in the middle represent the current contestants.
As you can see, Jena is still doing better than anybody who didn’t make the Top 3. Caleb is doing better than all but 2 (James Durbin and Jason Castro). On the other hand, only four contestants in poorer standing than Jessica have made the Top 3: Kris Allen, Casey James, Joshua Ledet, and Syesha Mercado.
A watchful eye may notice an apparent discrepancy between the place where the black curve predicts the probabilities and what the values above say. This is an artifact due to the normalization procedure: the sum of all probabilities must equal 3, because there will be three people in the Top 3.