Elliott Yamin, of Richmond, Va., received 33.06 percent of the vote. Hicks, of Hoover, Ala., and McPhee, of Los Angeles, got 33.26 percent and 33.68 percent of the votes, although it wasn't revealed which contestant had more.Three candidates, and they all get vote totals within six tenths of a percentage of one another. Hmm. I mean, people's blogs made it sound like the judges and everyone else sensed that Yamin was going to finish third, but he loses only by 1 in 500 votes?
I looked up the final vote totals from the first four seasons of American Idol:
Clarkson def. Guarini 58-42For democratic elections with two parties, there are rational choice explanations you can invoke for why elections should tend to be very close. (Basically, a party that is winning by too large of a margin should have pressure to become more ideologically extreme and thus make the next election closer.) I see no straightforward application of this logic to American Idol. So then: why are these elections repeatedly so exceptionally--or, to use a different word, unnaturally--close? What I am saying is that these numbers have been repeatedly so close as to demand some kind of explanation, and so what is it?
Studdard def. Aiken 50-50
Barrino def. DeGarmo 51-49
Underwood def. Bice 50-50
I'm serious here. I can think of various theories, but I'm interested if anyone else has ideas. For certain of my ideas, interesting additional evidence would be provided by the vote totals for Idol in other countries (it still runs in other countries, right?), and seeing if those also evince a tendency to be extremely close elections.