Crystal was a very strong contender all through last season. And I do believe she was voted for because she had that IT factor. BUT, in the end, Lee got the win-he was good, too, but not different in the way Crystal is-because, IMHO, more females vote in the competition.
I honestly think that for a woman to win AI, she has to be outstandingly pretty, pimped by the judges more than any of the contestants (like Simon with Carrie Underwood), have a younger range and presence (like Kelly and Jordon), and a genuine connection with the audience, (Fantasia).
With the men, looks seem to be the biggest factor, number ONE, and song choice and delivery number TWO. Was Beau Bice better than Carrie? Time has really told, BUT he was ill right after the competition, so he had a set-back. Simon pushed Carrie so hard, I didn't even feel like voting that season-I felt the votes were going to be swayed, but I DID vote for Beau, because I thought he had more originality. He wasn't JUST Country.
Was Blake better than Jordon? Haven't heard a thing about him since the season ended-but maybe you all know more about that than I do. Her dad was a semi-famous sports figure. Did THAT have anything to do with her winning? IMHO, that was a 'sucky' season, and it was more of a process of elimination vote.
Taylor Hicks over Katherine McFee? He's gone, and she has done a few more things, but not many. So, who knows?? I say it's pretty much a 50/50 thing. But as far as THIS season, it sure looks like the girls-all but Pia and Alaina-are going under like a frog in a crocodile's mouth...