The Real-World Politics of 'American Idol'

In the New York Post, conservative op-ed writer John Podhoretz wrote that the "winnowing process allows the most appealing candidates to pick up steam by adding new voters to their cadre of supporters. And as they do so, the field continues to be winnowed, until finally there are only one or two candidates left standing. The single-issue candidate, the flash-in-the-pan, the guy who has one fantastic debate -- they may all have their moments, but in the end, the candidate with the most broad-based appeal will usually win."

Podhoretz, it should be noted, also predicted that "according to the logic of coalition-building that is at the heart of both American politics and Fox's pop-culture phenomenon, Elliot Yamin will be the next 'American Idol.'"

In the end, endorsements, of course, are also critical.

"It's all about Simon Cowell," Conway said. "He represents the ultimate swing voter. As goes Simon, so goes the electorate."

Kendall Evans and Ari Meltzer contributed to this report.

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