By Adam B. Vary
Updated May 25, 2011 at 07:37 PM EDT

Since season 7, the conventional wisdom about who was going to win American Idol has always been wrong. “The tweens will speed dial David Archuleta into victory.” “Adam Lambert is a mega-star with a mega voice; he’s a shoo-in.” “Crystal Bowersox simply wiped the floor with What’s His Name; it’s hers to lose.” Whoopsie!

This is not to discount those who were predicting victories for David Cook, Kris Allen, and Lee DeWyze — just that they were a vocal minority amid the Idol chattering classes.

With that in mind, we pivot to season 10. For most Idol observers, Mini Alfred E. Newman George W. Bush Jr. Scotty McCreery has had this competition in the bag since his seemingly most formidable competition, the colossally voiced Pia Toscano, was booted during Top 9 week. He’s never officially been in the bottom three (that we know about, anyway). He had people saying he could land a Nashville contract “right now” practically since he stepped foot inside the Idoldome. He’s catnip for tween girl voters: An average-looking kid who’s kind of cute, kind of corny, and totally non-threatening. More than 122 million votes were cast last night, a record for the show. This kid is going to win in a landslide, right?

Well, as Kate Ward noted in her recap of last night’s performance finale, the producers and judges did everything in their power to disabuse us of that notion. Both Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler outright said Kelly Underwood Carrie Clarkson Lauren Alaina had won the night. The producers leaned heavily on the drama surrounding Lauren’s unsteady vocal chords. And Lauren herself had the diabolical instinct to sing her final song “Like My Mother Does” to her own mother. Moms may note be voting en masse in the early going, but if they are ever going to pick up the phone, it’s for the finale.

So who is going to win? Who should win? And how does this statistic strike you? Since Season 1, almost 4.8 billion votes have been cast for American Idol.

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