Emmys 2016 poll: Was vote-splitting to blame for shocking losses?

Gold Derby contributor Amanda Spears made a savvy observation at last night’s Emmys: all the drama and comedy acting nominees who were nominated against co-stars lost except for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who won Best Comedy Guest Actress for “Saturday Night Live” against fellow “SNL” hosts Melissa McCarthy and Amy Schumer. The unlucky co-stars were as follows:

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Comedy Supporting Actor: Tony Hale and Matt Walsh (“Veep”) lost to Louie Anderson (“Baskets”)

Comedy Supporting Actress: Judith Light and Gaby Hoffmann (“Transparent”) lost to Kate McKinnon (“SNL”)

Comedy Guest Actor: Larry David and Tracy Morgan (“SNL”) lost to Peter Scolari (“Girls”)

Drama Supporting Actor: Peter Dinklage and Kit Harington (“Game of Thrones”) lost to Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline”)

Drama Supporting Actress: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie Williams (“Game of Thrones”) lost to Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”)

Drama Guest Actor: Mahershala Ali, Reg E. Cathey and Paul Sparks (“House of Cards”) lost to Hank Azaria (“Ray Donovan”)

Drama Guest Actress: Ellen Burstyn and Molly Parker (“House of Cards”) lost to Margo Martindale (“The Americans”)

Those weren’t the only categories where multiple nominees lost. Consider Best Comedy Writing and Best Comedy Directing. There were multiple episodes of “Silicon Valley” and “Veep” in contention in both races, but the writing award went to the sole nominee for “Master of None” (the episode “Parents,” written by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang), while directing was awarded to the sole nominee for “Transparent” (“Man on the Land,” directed by series creator Jill Soloway).

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So does this confirm the theory of Emmy vote splitting? The TV academy changed voting procedures this year from a ranked preferential ballot to a simple plurality vote. Preferential ballots benefit multiple nominees because if, for instance, a voter is a fan of “Game of Thrones”‘ they can rank Clarke, Headey and Williams as their first, second and third choices, and when all is said and done one of them would likely win. But with a plurality system voters must simply select one nominee in each category, and the “Game of Thrones” fans might be divided. “Downton” fans had just one option in that contest — Maggie Smith — and she won.

This wasn’t the case in all categories however. Three of the victories for “The People v. O.J. Simpson” came in categories where they had multiple nominees: Courtney B. Vance won Best Movie/Mini Actor over his co-star Cuba Gooding Jr., Sterling K. Brown was selected as Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor over co-stars John Travolta and David Schwimmer, and the episode “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” (by D.V. DeVincentis) won Best Movie/Mini Writing against two other episodes of the series: “From the Ashes of Tragedy” and “The Race Card.” But perhaps that means there was such overwhelming support for “People v. O.J.” that even vote-splitting couldn’t stop one of its nominees from winning.

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Then again, in the race for Best Movie/Mini Directing we were also predicting a victory for “People v. O.J.,” but its three nominated episodes in that contest lost to a sole nominee, Susanne Bier for “The Night Manager,” so maybe even it still wasn’t immune to splitting the vote.

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