May 18, 2006 11:54 AM by Joe Blackmon
American Idol finally revealed the percentage of votes for each of the American Idol finalists, and the closeness of the vote was incredible. In fact, it was too incredible for some American Idol fans, who are questioning the accuracy of the numbers. Ryan Seacrest announced the percentage breakdown of the fifty million votes cast as 33.68%, 33.26%, and 33.06%. A Reality TV Magazine reader named Deb wrote in to say, “No way were those votes 33 blank percent each contestant. NO WAY was 50 million in votes split in 3rds. I have MORE of a chance of winning the lottery for heavens sake!”
The exact order of finish was not revealed, but it was revealed that Elliott Yamin had the lowest percentage of 33.06%, and he was eliminated from the competition. Some fans are also questioning the timing of this information. Could it be an attempt to address the controversy surrounding Chris Daughtry’s elimination? Is it being shown so that viewers will know how thin a margin separates the finalists and thus make Daughtry’s elimination more believable?
While most were predicting a very tight finish between Katharine McPhee and Elliott Yamin, it is the fact that Taylor Hicks’ percentage was so close to the other two that is surprising many fans. While Seacrest never revealed if Katharine McPhee or Taylor Hicks had the highest percentage, it would seem like Taylor Hicks who has never been in the bottom group and has been named as the favorite by Simon Cowell would have a larger lead. While they clearly note their results are not scientific, DialIdol.com has been amazingly accurate in their predictions, and the site showed Taylor Hicks as having close to a three percentage point lead on Katharine and Elliott in recent voting. One also only has to look as far as the turnout for the hometown visits for each of the Idol finalist to start wondering how the voting could ever have been that close.
As unbelievable as the percentages might sound, there is one explanation that could explain them, which might not be too pleasing to American Idol fans. A frequent complaint among American Idol viewers is that they encounter busy signals while attempting to vote for their favorite singer. A Reality TV Magazine reader named Terri recently wrote in to tell us, “Do you realize how unfair it is, to the viewer participants, who are trying to vote, and to continually get some sort of busy sound or message? These are intended votes for the contestant.” Could the vote percentages be so close because the phone lines are being flooded and each contestant is getting the maximum amount of votes that can get through? If this is the case, then it could certainly go a long way in explaining all the surprise eliminations.
Earlier this year, American Idol executive producer Ken Warwick denied that there were problems with the phone lines at national levels, but he did admit to possible problems at the local switchboard level. Warwick stated “A lot of the problems have not been genuine, you know, that have been published. There is never any congestion at national grid system level. The only time there is any congestion is at local switchboard level, and that’s going to happen, there’s nothing I can do..” Could it be that the next American Idol will be decided based on which American Idol finalist has the best local switchboard systems in their home state?