I would like to take this opportunity to analyze the recent American Idol "shocker." Everyone's favorite Australian, Michael Johns, was eliminated in a strangely upside down proceeding in which three of the best singers were ranked at the very bottom. (I am not talking about David Cook or David Archuleta, of course, who are likely to be the last two standing, but rather about three very talented singers who are superior in every way to that horrible country singer, Kerry Cook or whatever her name is. She deserves to be dragged out to the place where cows receive their airgun blasts, and if not given an airgun blast herself, at least be branded as a Loser.)
Anyway, people are under the impression that America has lost its collective mind, the stars are in screwy positions, and cats and dogs will soon be living together. I am here to assure you, fine reader, that all is well and good in the American voting psyche. The latest American Idol shocker is actually just the latest in a long line of similar voting incidents. Let me explain:
Michael Johns is best described as a blues style rocker. David Cook is best described as a very fashionable rocker. David Cook is also widely regarded as the superior of the two. So what clearly happened is that David Cook took Michael Johns's votes. This is different than in past seasons where two similar performers will split the vote, and neither of them will end up on top; in the present situation, David Cook is a similar performer but also far superior. So he took Michael Johnson's votes: anyone who would have considered voting for Mr. Johns almost certainly voted for Mr. Coke instead.
This is why Mr. Johns got the fewest number of votes. In this case, a getting the fewest votes does not mean that he is the worst contestant (that distinction goes to Ms. Cook). It simply means that he was slightly less popular than David Cook, and because of the way the voting system works, David Cook ended up getting all the votes. Mr. Johns got none.
This happens all the time in politics. Look at the 2000 presidential election: all things equal, people who were inclined to vote for Al Gore might also be inclined to vote for Ralph Nader. They simply liked Al Gore better, and they thought that he had a better chance of winning. That Ralph Nader got less than 5% of the vote did not mean that he was the worst politician, or horribly unsuitable for office; it simply meant that Mr. Gore took all of the votes that Mr. Nader would otherwise have received.
Note that this is, as I explained above, a slightly different phenomenon than that in which two candidates will split the votes, and therefore both end up on the bottom. This happens often when you have two similarly situated contestants, such as two equally good rockers, two equally good R&B performers, etc.
And there you have it. That Michael Johns was at the very bottom of the totem pole is not reflective of his level of talent, but only reflective of his relative popularity compared to David Cook.
For the record, I am a huge David Cook fan, and fully expect him to win. Now that that fact is known, I hope there will be no allegations of undisclosed bias in this analysis. My bias is hereby disclosed. :-)