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 looks quite likely to include Jena and Caleb. The race has tightened in the extreme between Alex and Jessica, and one should no longer, in my opinion, be nearly so sure that Alex will make it instead of Jessica.
Jena has been above 80% for five weeks now. Both she and Caleb are the only ones to make it that high in any week except Alex after the Top 8 redux.
Jessica has momentum following Sam’s elimination, based on two weeks where her approval ratings have been improving somewhat. Alex seems to be in a problematic mode: his really amazingly highly rated performances were several weeks ago, and since then he’s oscillated around 65% with no sign of picking up. His popularity is also flagging. That being said, according to the internet, Jessica is more likely to be eliminated. I sympathize with this, since she has been in the bottom 3, and Alex never has. But there is a lot of room for a surprise in this round.
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.
Jena is still doing better than anybody who didn’t make the Top 3. Caleb is doing better than all but 1 (James Durbin). On the other hand, seven contestants in poorer standing than Jessica have made the Top 3, meaning that she could easily be in striking distance. From a historical perspective, Alex and Jessica are in nearly indistinguishable territory.