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April 17, 2014

Are Tea Partiers Gaming the Vote for Bristol Palin on 'Dancing With the Stars'?

by Gary Susman, posted Nov 17th 2010 11:00PM
Bristol Palin on 'Dancing With the Stars'There's been a lot of conspiracy theorizing about Bristol Palin's survival on 'Dancing With the Stars,' even after so many clearly stronger competitors have been eliminated.

The prevailing theory is that Tea Partiers, rallying around a mission they've dubbed 'Operation Bristol,' are gaming the voting system and favoring Palin -- not for her ballroom skills but because they're political supporters of her mother, Sarah Palin. It's a theory that's been cited not just by industry observers at outlets like TV Squad or The Hollywood Reporter, but also by the show's executive producer, Conrad Green. It even got an airing from ABC's Jimmy Kimmel. During his post-show interview with Brandy and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who were shockingly voted off on Tuesday despite having earned a perfect score from the judges on Monday, Kimmel asked the pair, "Do you believe there is an organized tea party voting bloc? Maksim, you're from Russia, right, you know about these blocs and this sort of thing."

Now, women's site Jezebel claims to have evidence that conservatives are exploiting a loophole in ABC's e-mail voting system to cast extra votes for Palin. Jezebel's evidence, however, is far from conclusive.

It's certainly true that 'Dancing' is more popular among Republican viewers than among Democratic viewers. It's also true that there is lots of anecdotal support among conservatives for Bristol Palin and partner Mark Ballas. The Jezebel article finds plenty of posts in the conservative blogosphere urging readers to vote for Bristol. That doesn't mean, however, that conservative voters are abusing the system.

Jezebel also cites the predictions on DialIdol that foresaw Palin and Ballas as this week's top vote-getters. But DialIdol bases its predictions on a measure of busy signals on the voting phone lines, so its picks are irrelevant to Jezebel's charge that Tea Partiers are jamming the e-mail votes.

That allegation is based on a comment at HillBuzz.org, where a conservative reader notes that, to vote online, ABC asks you to provide an e-mail address, but it's possible to give a made-up address, since there's no validation process. That security gap would allow voters so inclined to vote an unlimited number of times. Downthread, several HillBuzz commenters say they tried that tactic, and it worked. Still, that's not evidence of massive voter fraud on Palin's behalf, or that fans of the other dancers aren't doing the same thing.

Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy on 'Dancing With the Stars'It's also true that each contestant, and each of the show's professional dance partners, has an extensive online fan base, as is apparent from the tens of thousands of Twitter followers subscribing to each pro's feed. Still, among this week's competing dance pros, Derek Hough (Jennifer Grey's partner) has nearly 84,000 Twitter followers, Chmerkovskiy has about 64,000 and Lacey Schwimmer (Kyle Massey's partner) has about 62,000. Ballas has the least, about 53,000 followers. Based on that unscientific count, it seems Ballas and Palin fans are more motivated to vote and vote often than fans of the others are.

Still, if Palin voters aren't driving up her tally just for political reasons, what other reasons could there be? Judging by comments on 'Dancing' posts here at TV Squad, Palin fans seem willing to cut her a lot of slack and give her an A for effort. They note that she's improved over the course of the season, and that, unlike the contestants who come from the world of entertainment or sports, she's done so without the advantages of any dance training or natural athletic grace. It's certainly possible for Bristol's fans to support her for those reasons without also intending their votes as a showbiz proxy election for her mother. But the two tendencies do often seem to go together.

If Palin wins, it won't be the first time (or the second, or third) that a 'Dancing' victory has gone to the sentimental favorite, rather than to the best dancer. Still, it won't be surprising if next season, ABC starts requiring e-mail validation for online voters.

•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.

Do you think Sarah Palin supporters are responsible for Bristol Palin's survival on 'Dancing With the Stars'? Or that they're exploiting the system to cast extra votes for Bristol?

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PC

Engage your deductive side. This is a mindless show to capture the mind of a younger generation than the "T" party. I'm sure there are those that may watch occasionally, but most of people of the "T" party have something constructive to do. And reading senseless blogs is not one of them. Myself having only seen a few out takes in advertisment saw it wasn't for me, a little to trashy! There hasn't been a show on tv in years that had any kind of a plot to try and stimulate the mind, sort of like the school system. Nothing but a social agenda to lead people around mindlessly. Read anything about "skins"? I rest my case.

January 21 2011 at 3:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
LEE

I THOUGHT DWT'S STOOD FOR DANCING WITH THE STARS...
I DIDN'T KNOW BRISTOL WAS A STAR.

December 24 2010 at 11:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
surfdogge69

It is true. You can vote as many times as you want. I voted over 100 times after one episode for Florence Henderson and Kurt Warner..I voted 275 times for Jerry Rice.....It's so easy a Palin can do it..

December 22 2010 at 7:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Carribbean58

One of the sad things about the whole situation is that some of the really good dancer and ones who clearly should have won were eliminated because of "baby mama politics."

December 22 2010 at 4:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rich

Yeah, the teabaggers voted over and over for this young mother, its a good thing we dont vote for Pres. online

December 22 2010 at 4:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
qaqs9000

Bristol seems nice enough but give me a break the girl stinks. The producers just figured out how to ruin a great show. I am a computer geek and it is a piece of cake to stuff the ballot box if I want to. This was stuffed from the word go and anyone stupid enought to believe otherwise is a total air head. Wake up America if people fix elections (and they do) then this is a walk in the park for a few of us to stuff the voting and give the win to anyone we want. Stupid stupid stupid people

December 22 2010 at 4:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
directahead

Those of you who keep saying Bristol didn't have any prev. dance exsp. before DWTS . She practiced the figure 8 dance , that is why she is speaking against teen pregncy.

December 22 2010 at 3:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to directahead's comment
Joe Kingley

Snide remark - pinhead

December 22 2010 at 3:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Cody

GEE, funny how you didn't see any articles whining when the violent psychopaths at PETA pulled the EXACT SAME STUNT for Pamela Anderson.

December 22 2010 at 2:50 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Rocky

I believe that there was a conspiracy for Jennifer Grey to win over BRANDY - and has NOTHING to do with Bristol Palin! I think friends(Hollywood network of Jamie Lee Curtus/Melanie Griffin etc...) & family of Jennifer Grey voted for Bristol & Kyle to get rid of Brandy so that Jennifer Grey would win.
Why would Tea Party or Republicans care if Bristol lost? That's why I think Bristol staying in this dancing competition has NOTHING to do with her mother's politics. Bristol was awful & should have been off the program long ago. Kyle too. Brandy was much better than Jennifer.
Jennifer is the ONLY one who benefited from Bristol (and Kyle!) staying in this competition. Of course Jennifer would win with those 2 awful dancers.
BRANDY SHOULD HAVE WON!

November 24 2010 at 12:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
JoAnn

I am glad that Jennifer Grey won, however I do not understand why people are coming down on Bristal Palin, she worked hard and tried to do her best. This show is all about America voting, it is not about who has the most talent. Every person who comes on this show has a fan base and there have been many contestants in the past who have gotten far and not because they could dance all that well, but because they were loved by the viewers, so get over it Liberals.

November 24 2010 at 11:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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