As we head into the Dancing with the Stars semi-finals, we are left with only four dancing pairs. Two of the pairs feature the season’s frontrunners, Jennifer and Brandy. A third pair has the unexpected dynamo of Kyle. And then there’s Bristol.

Love her or hate her, Bristol has made it this far. She hasn’t made it on judges’ scores — she’s ranked last in scoring for three out of the past four weeks. But that hasn’t stopped her from claiming a place over the higher-scoring Audrina, Rick and Kurt. The voters have kept Bristol on the air so far, and that might just continue.

Who’s Voting?
Really, it’s not just the Tea Party. That’s not an insignificant voting bloc — “Operation Bristol” and other campaigns organized by Sarah Palin supporters can’t be ignored. But you can’t just laud/blame political groups for Bristol’s DWTS success.

The girl has a lot of non-political support as well. Some Dancing with the Stars viewers just plain like her, and why not? She’s young and pretty. She seems like an awfully nice person. She has a sympathetic back story. And, most importantly, she’s not a star. Bristol looks, talks and acts like an enhanced version of the “average American.” That’s powerful stuff on a show filled with divas and celebrities.

It’s Not Just the Voters
It’s not only that Bristol Palin attracts voters, it’s also that she attracts them the right way. No one should underestimate the power of social media in this day and age, and the pro-Bristol forces most certainly do not.

There’s a Bristol Palin fansite. Bristol’s got a Facebook page (updated frequently), which urges fans to cast their votes. In addition Mark’s official Twitter account, supporters like radio host Tammy Bruce advertise pro-Bristol campaigns to thousands of followers.

Sure, not all of those who keep up with Bristol via Facebook or Twitter vote, but enough do to make a huge difference.

What Will It Mean?
Unfortunately for her competition, Bristol may have the support they lack when it comes time to choose DWTS finalists.

The acknowledged “top” dancers are Jennifer and Brandy. While both have their supporters and both receive votes for their dancing alone, neither can boast the strong support of Bristol. Kyle is a different story, coming from relative obscurity to a starring position on Dancing with the Stars. He’s obviously got support, but the strength and reliability of that support remain unknown.

In contrast, there’s Bristol. We don’t have to wonder about her support. When voters save a bottom-place finisher not one but three times, you know they’ll never waver. The voters casting their lot with Bristol are in it until the end.

Will it be enough to get Bristol into the finals? Maybe, but it’s never certain. Brilliant performances by the competition could drag voters elsewhere. A poor performance by Bristol and Mark could convince some supporters that Bristol’s time is over. Dancing with the Stars viewers who dislike Bristol may successfully mobilize voters against her.

We won’t know the outcome until it arrives. But we do know that Bristol Palin has a chance to be an unlikely Dancing with the Stars champion.

What do you think? Should Bristol make it to the finals? Is she done? Who is her biggest competition? Let us know in the comments!

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.