‘Dancing With the Stars’–or ballot-stuffing with the tea party?

Holly Bailey

Are Sarah Palin's tea party supporters keeping her daughter Bristol from being eliminated on "Dancing With the Stars"?

That's what the show's top producer thinks after the 20-year-old Palin, who has received some of the lowest scores of the season, survived another elimination round this week. She now enters the show's semifinals, as a member of one the final four couples in contention.

"There's a strong popular movement behind Sarah Palin at the moment, and she's receiving a lot of support from the tea party," "DWTS" executive producer Conrad Greene tells Bloomberg's Ronald Grover. "It's entirely possible some of those people are behind Bristol for political reasons."

While Sarah Palin herself has not urged her supporters to vote for her daughter, some of the ex-governor's backers have. The blog Conservatives4Palin, which is closely allied with Palin's  political operation, has posted voting info for the show, urging supporters to vote for Bristol. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin's fans on Twitter have also sent messages urging votes for Bristol—though that procedure is no different from how the show's other celebrity contestants and their supporters have lobbied for votes.

Yet as Bloomberg noted,  Palin was seen on the show's Nov. 8 episode wearing a tea party shirt during rehearsals. "The Palins are literally shameless," blogged the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan, a frequent Palin critic, a frequent Palin critic, linking to the Bloomberg story. National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez laughed off the Bloomberg story as a "post-election conspiracy."

Show judge Carrie Ann Inaba tells People that she thinks Bristol Palin is doing well because she's someone "regular people can relate to."

"A lot of people come up to me and say, 'I want to be on "Dancing With the Stars." Why don't they have a regular-people version?'" Inaba tells People. "And I feel like that's what Bristol Palin is. She's a regular girl with normal problems and normal issues, and I think a lot of people look at her and see themselves."

(Photo of Bristol Palin and her dancing partner, Mark Ballas: Adam Larkey/ABC via AP)