As usual, there’s more than one factor to consider. But to understand why the teen pop star had to surf his way home, we have to go back to Week 3’s Most Memorable Year theme and Week 4’s Switch Up. The scores and votes from those two nights of dancing are responsible for the Disney Night elimination.
The Most Memorable Year dances tend to reward to whoever has a powerful personal story. Through no fault of his own, 17-year-old Cody had arguably the least inspiring story. He danced a Jazz to his own “Surfboard” song, ending up in the middle of the judges' leaderboard with a 35. That personal theme tends to be about strong emotions, and in the past we've seen good dancers go home (Kristin Cavallari comes to mind) after that week if their story just doesn't motivate fans to vote.
Week 4, Cody had the Switch Up with new partner Sharna Burgess. The judges thought he showed improvement but he was in the in-between zone, and Julianne Hough suggested he do something un-Cody to challenge himself. His score was 31, relatively low, but he didn’t seem dramatically underscored or attacked by the judges (see Maks/Danica, Charlie/Peta) so he didn’t stand out in a way that added extra motivation to vote for him.
Cody ended up fourth from the bottom with a two-night combined score of 66. The only celebs below him were Candace Cameron Bure at the very bottom with 60 and NeNe Leakes and Drew Carey tied above her with 63. So far this season, no one with the lowest score has gone home. Drew had the lowest score on Week 3 and Candace had the lowest on Week 4, and also combined. So they may have looked like they needed saving, more than someone in the middle like Cody.
Cody just didn't look like he was in trouble, so he may have been overlooked by anyone who would’ve voted for him and Witney Carson if it was more obvious that they were in danger. Or he just may not have gotten past this point anyway, since the show skews older in demographics and he never really branched out beyond his teen base.
The guy does have a lot of fans, and the young girls in the live audience screamed so loud after he danced that it was sometimes hard to hear the judges. With that kind of fandom, the longtime DWTS viewers at home may not have been motivated to add more votes his way. And if this teaches us anything, it's that millions of Twitter followers do not guarantee DWTS success. (Do we even know how many of the Aussie’s followers could vote for the U.S. show?) The DWTS winner will probably be a more general population favorite, as usual, and not come from one celeb's very specific fan base.
Plus, Cody was dancing with the amazing but brand new pro Witney, who hasn’t had as much time to build her own fan base as longtime pros like Cheryl Burke and Mark Ballas, who were paired with fellow celebs toward the bottom. Unlike the celebs, the pros’s Twitter/social media followers are more concentrated with DWTS fans, so they have even more value when it comes to voting.
Are you surprised that Cody and Witney left on Week 5, or do you feel like you understand why their scores and votes led to this outcome? Did you vote for them to stay?