By Adam B. Vary
Updated May 24, 2011 at 01:30 PM EDT

Last season, Crystal Bowersox was hands down the clear winner over Lee DeWyze, and yet Lee won. Why? To get wildly, obnoxiously reductive for a second, I think in part it was because Casey James’ fans were more into voting for another cute boy troubadour than a singer-songwriter mama with dreadlocks. Voter migration likely had an even bigger influence on the outcome of season 8, when Danny Gokey’s fans clearly flocked more to Kris Allen’s wholesome song stylings than Adam Lambert’s platform-shoed glam pop. And in season 6, it’s a safe bet that Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones’ fans were more aligned with what Jordin Sparks was offering than beat-boxing Blake Lewis.

You see what I’m getting at here, right? American Idol has never seen contestants more similarly matched in genre and fan base than Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, which means the country music vote could be more evenly split than the Scotty-has-this-in-the-bag bandwagon would have us believe. So the outcome may just come down to who fans of Haley Reinhart and James Durbin decide deserves their votes — if they choose to vote for anyone at all. Will Haley fans call and text for Lauren, who’s got more showy pipes than Scotty? Will James fans lean towards Scotty, who, um, also knows how to play a guitar? Or will Haley and James fans just sit this one out?

Vote in the poll below and then defend your choice in the comments!

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