Brandy vs. Bristol: How does elimination work on ‘Dancing With the Stars’?

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How did singer Brandy get booted from ‘Dancing With the Stars’ after pulling a perfect score for one of her dances with Maksim Chmerkovskiy on Monday night? And how did Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas survive another week despite coming in last with the judges more often than not?

Allow the Ministry to show you the math.

According to the ‘DWTS’ website, couples are ranked by a combination of two scores -- the percentage of total judges’ points they are awarded plus the percentage of viewer votes they get. The pair with the lowest combined total goes home.

(OK, this really is math. Hang in there.)

On Monday, Brandy and Maks earned a total of 57 points for their two dances, with 53 for Bristol and Mark, 58 for Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer, and a perfect 60 for Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough. That’s a total of 228 points handed out by the judges, leaving the couples ranked as follows, before viewer voting was done: Jennifer/Derek, 26.3%; Kyle/Lacey, 25.4%; Brandy/Maks, 25%; and Bristol/Mark, 23.2%.

So while in raw numbers Brandy and Maks were a full four points higher than Bristol and Mark in the judging, and separated by 3.6 points -- 51.8% to 48.2% -- when compared head to head, there was a difference of only 1.8 points between the two couple in the context of the entire field. And that was only half the battle.


If the audience votes had broken evenly, with each couple getting 25% of the vote, that order would have held, with each team having 25 points added to their total. But Bristol and Mark really didn’t have that much to make up -- obviously getting at least 1.9% more of the popular vote than the eliminated twosome. And viewers, who theoretically vote for their favorites via phone, text message and online, must be motivated to give their support, not lulled into complacency or put off.

Seriously, who’s more likely to spark an energetic fan reaction -- Brandy or Bristol?

‘We consistently have had Bristol at the bottom or the bottom two and the viewers bring her back, and it’s because they want to see her dance again,’ judge Len Goodman said after Monday night’s show.

‘In this case, you cross the finish line first and somebody barely finishes, and you get a tie because they showed heart,’ Chmerkovskiy said on ‘Good Morning America’ Wednesday. ‘It’s kind of difficult for me to deal with.’

Moral of the story? If you get out the vote, there’s no reason to shoot your TV.


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-- Christie D’Zurilla

Top photo: Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas face the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ judges on Monday. Credit: Adam Larkey / ABC/Reuters