Something strange happened on American Idol last night.
The best singers ended up in the bottom three. You might question whether Elise Testone is one of the best singers, but surely Joshua Ledet and Jessica Sanchez are.
How did America get it so wrong?
Wasn’t it supposed to be about talent?
If not talent, perhaps America was voting on musical genre. The four top vote-getters were all from the South. They represented country music.
By all appearances, the people who vote the most on American Idol are country music fans, above and beyond all else.
And the bottom three contestants all belonged to ethnic minority groups. I am stretching a bit to say that Elise Testone, of Italian-American heritage belongs to an ethnic minority group, but Joshua does and so does Jessica.
Being a Philippino-American Jessica Sanchez belongs to the smallest ethnic minority.
By all indications Jessica is the best singer on the show this year. Last night she got the fewest votes.
Could it be that ethnicity plays an important role in American Idol voting patterns?
If last night is an indication, the answer is Yes.
American Idol voters are not a statistically representative sample of the citizenry. Many of them are young girls who vote over and over again for the cutest boy.
Still, last night’s results suggest that America is more sharply divided on ethnic lines than one would have wished.
What is the lesson? Politicians who say they want to bring the country together seem to have succeeded in doing just the opposite. They have been exploiting and sharpening ethnic divisions.
It’s not a good thing.