Bristol Palin‘s endurance in the competition has many scratching their heads, talking of right-wing conspiracies and even crying foul play.
But no matter what you think of her skills, personality or mother, Bristol Palin is obviously connecting with a large group of people, because her consistently lower scores have yet to knock her out of the running.
At this point, it’s anybody’s game. So in the interest of speculation, analysis and diplomacy, let’s examine the factors that will bring that mirrorball trophy within her reach … and the ones that might ensure she never lays a finger on it.
5 reasons Bristol Palin will win:
1. Politics – In a first for the series, a contestant’s political association has really been a boon to her popularity. Campaigns, including one called “Operation Bristol,” from tea party members and Sarah Palin supporters. Many credit this phenomenon as the reason she hasn’t been eliminated yet.
2. She’s improving – It would be unfair not to acknowledge how much better Bristol has gotten. Her Week 8 tango showed off her commitment and skill. And if you ignore that whole gorilla suit fiasco, there hasn’t been a single catastrophe to her credit this season.
3. Relatability – One of Bristol’s biggest assets this season is the fact that she’s not actually a star. She’s a normal girl, plucked from obscurity, and that clearly registers with viewers.
4. Mark Ballas – The two-time mirrorball winner is one of the more bankable and popular pros to be partnered with. And when his star isn’t keeping up, he’s highly skilled at boosting his own choreography to compensate. It doesn’t do much for the judging, but it definitely brings in extra votes.
5. Attitude – Yes, there have been a few tears here and there, but nothing compared to some of her other competitors (cough, cough, Jennifer Grey). And since all those tears have been for her missing her son and her home, they’re much more likely to inspire sympathy.
5 reasons Bristol Palin will lose:
1. Politics – Not all people want their chocolate mingling with their peanut butter. The more attention given to grassroots campaigns to keep Bristol on the show, the more likely the series’ liberal and apolitical fans are to give their votes to someone else.
2. Talent – Nearly nine weeks into the competition, Bristol’s improvement doesn’t come anywhere near the progress and technical prowess of her competitors — Kyle Massey included.
3. Likability – A little shy at the start, Bristol’s really come around — but not enough. Her commentary on the show seems curt and canned, and, as much as she’s fully aware of it, there’s still a bit of a smiling issue.
4. The judges – They’ve always graded Bristol on a bit of a curve, but with only two weeks left in the competition, expect lower scores unless she really rises to the occasion.
5. Order in the universe – A receptionist from Alaska can’t actually beat Brandy or Jennifer Grey in a celebrity dancing competition, right? Right?
Photo credit: ABC