Clay Aiken Could Win a Congressional Race, If Music Sales in the District Are Any Guide

The American Idol runner-up’s music is most popular right near the congressional district where he’s running.

National Journal
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Matt Vasilogambros
Jan. 3, 2014, 10:14 a.m.

Clay Aiken may have got­ten second place on Amer­ic­an Idol in 2003, but he might have a good shot of win­ning a con­gres­sion­al seat in his home state of North Car­o­lina. That is, if you’re look­ing at mu­sic sales.

Per cap­ita, the re­gion in the coun­try where Aiken’s mu­sic is most pop­u­lar is right near the con­gres­sion­al dis­trict where he is run­ning.

Aiken, a 35-year-old pop sing­er whose suc­cess has dwindled in re­cent years, has re­mained a vo­cal sup­port­er of gay rights and men­tal dis­ab­il­it­ies. But with the an­nounce­ment that he will run for Con­gress in North Car­o­lina’s 2nd Dis­trict, his pul­pit might get a little big­ger. The seat is held by Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Ren­ee Ellmers and is con­sidered a “Sol­id R” by The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port, re­gis­ter­ing an R +10 in its meas­ure­ments. In 2012, Ellmers won the seat with 56 per­cent of the vote.

However, noth­ing is ever cer­tain in polit­ics, es­pe­cially in of­ten-bizarre con­gres­sion­al races.

The con­gres­sion­al dis­trict is near two ma­jor mu­sic mar­kets for Aiken’s ca­reer. Ac­cord­ing to Nielsen En­ter­tain­ment data, the Raleigh-Durham re­gion is Aiken’s best mar­ket in the coun­try. The Greens­boro-Win­ston Salem-High Point re­gion, which is also near the con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, is the second-most-pop­u­lar re­gion for his mu­sic in the coun­try. The Nielsen Sound­Scan in­dex meas­ures al­bum sales and pop­u­la­tion totals.

Just take some of his ma­jor al­bums. Double-plat­in­um Meas­ure of a Man sold 85,000 al­bums in the Raleigh-Durham area. Plat­in­um Merry Christ­mas With Love sold 51,842 al­bums — large fig­ures for that area. Con­sid­er­ing these al­bum sales and his name re­cog­ni­tion in the area, this could help his elect­or­al suc­cess.

In total, Aiken has sold 237,000 al­bums in his home state, and more than 5 mil­lion in the U.S.

If he were to run in any place in the coun­try, this re­gion is the smartest, just in terms of mu­sic sales. The worst place for him to run: Al­buquerque, N.M., ac­cord­ing to Nielsen.

It makes sense that Aiken would be so pop­u­lar in his home state. Home-field ad­vant­age has a tend­ency to reign in mu­sic. Take, for in­stance, the band Wilco. The band’s biggest per-cap­ita mar­ket in the coun­try is Chica­go, ac­cord­ing to Nielsen, where its mem­bers are from.

Now that he’s de­cided to run, he might have a nice head start with his fan base.

And just for good meas­ure, Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Reena Flores made his first tele­vi­sion ad:

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