'American Idol' v. Congress: Which Is the Bigger Popularity Contest?

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American Idol runner up Clay Aiken has decided to run for U.S. Congress in his home state of North Carolina.

So it's probably a good time to finally clear up the confusion: Is politics really like "American Idol"?

Since the show took the country by storm in 2002, it's not uncommon to hear politics compared to an Idol-style popularity contest-and not necessarily in a good way.

On the other hand, "American Idol" is about as undemocratic as they come.

There's no Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul to give Aiken a quick pass into the general election from a crowded Democratic primary, and when America votes, it's one person, one vote in this country - no text messaging or phone calls from the voting booth allowed.

But for what it's worth, let's take a look at where reality TV and political reality intersect.

American Idol


North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District Election
Tens of thousands of contestants audition, a few hundred move to the next round Auditions So far, Aiken and two Democrats have announced they'll run against one incumbent, Rep. Renee Ellmers, who is facing a GOP challenger.
A yes from a majority of the judges will get you a ticket to Hollywood! Golden ticket Meet the constitutional requirements and the state residency requirements to run for Congress and you're in!
A week's worth of grueling singing, song writing, and group performances to separate the wheat from the chafe. Hollywood Week The Democratic primary. Aiken will face debates and old fashioned campaigning.
The top 12 performers Finalists One Democrat and one Republican face off in the general election.
Season 2: Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson The judges The media
Text message and phone. Voting multiple times is allowed. America votes One person, one vote at the ballot box.
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