Why Ruben Wins
Throwing Things’ Adam Bonin claims: “Clay Aiken will win the American Idol competition ‘because he's white, and so is the majority of the teenyboppers calling in.’”
Although Adam Bonin means to predict the result of American Idol, he has labored to produce a brilliant thesis about why Clay Aiken survives any race involving three or more. His analysis, I believe, is more akin to understanding a primary vote and breaks down when confronted with the general election.
I cannot compete with Adam’s Charlie Cook-like
analysis of American Idol – so I have to stick with some mind-numbing Bill Schneider-like platitudes
where the audience is already way the hell ahead of me, but I think there are a number of points that attack, but not, destroy Adam’s primary thesis. Clay may win this thing, but I think Clay's a Thomas Dewey, both talented and strange-looking --- where a hundred replays of the 1948 election sends 99 Harry Trumans back to Missouri. Whether Ruben is Harry Truman... or another upset Democrat... remains to be seen.
I don't buy into the Clay Aiken as Racial Vanguard thesis. He may make the teeny boppers sway, but he's Rick Astley
, not David Duke. His appeal is his charm. Although there may be some tendency for white audience members to identify with a white contestant, I don't think it's a very strong one. Suburban white teenagers are the largest consumers of gangsta rap and even with the strong 12-18 age group participation in the early voting, any bias in the sample for whites may help Clay over the edge (but then Ruben should pick up the votes from the chick that just lost out) but I don’t think this makes it a lock.
I note, too, that Adam himself argued that Frenchie Davis
would have won this thing in a walk. Frenchie Davis would have played all comers like Walter Mondale to her Ronald Reagan (and I mean to include Reagan’s shameful phone sex
Unless the "bottom two" has been edited to enhance the story (which, in any event presages well for Ruben), I’m assuming – without evidence – that these votes are indeed close. I have no belief in the overall integrity of either the contest or the voting and if Clay were an unstoppable juggernaut with Maxine Waters-like reelection margins, this would have been identified – and edited against – during the last few weeks. Clay may be winning, but he’s not winning by much – Adam’s latest records sales statistics notwithstanding.
There will be a much larger voting constituency for American Idol final. And this is what I think helps Ruben out. The buzz on this show is such that more people, and I believe likely more adults, will be tuning in – and voting – for Ruben. Clay’s constituency, if Adam has read this right, is the young, repeat viewer (and, I hasten to add, repeat voter). I don’t know that you are going to get a big upsurge in an already motivated constituency. The marginal voter goes to Ruben and there will be a lot of extra votes Tuesday night. If I’m right on point two, I think point three carries the day.
Simon Cowen wants Ruben. Ruben is Luther Vandross, he’s Boyz II Men. Clay is Rick Astley – talented, yes, but limited. Ruben can make a career. Now while Frenchy would have run the table, I don’t know that Clay’s got this thing locked. He might not be Thomas Dewey, he might not even Bill Clinton – talented, flawed and unstoppable. But I think he’s going to play Richard Nixon to Ruben’s Kennedy and when the Long Count is over, Ruben’s going to win the day.