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Eric Church finally won the CMA Award for entertainer of the year on his fourth try Wednesday night (Nov. 11). While the award was well-deserved, people can't help but wonder — did the fact that both Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood were nominated in the category split the "female vote" and help enable a male entertainer to win for the ninth consecutive year?

By "female vote," we refer not simply to how the female members of the CMA voted, but to how members of either gender who thought it was high time for a woman to win voted. There are undoubtedly male CMA voters who voted for Underwood or Lambert in part because the CMA was overdue for a woman to take the top prize. (And also, let's hasten to add, because they're both great entertainers. You don't get to the entertainer of the year finals if you're not.)

If only Underwood, or only Lambert, had been nominated, would we have been more likely to see a female entertainer of the year winner for the first time since Taylor Swift took the 2011 award? The answer is unknowable, of course, but it's a tantalizing possibility. Let's look at past CMA Awards history for some clues.

This was the ninth time in CMA history that two female solo artists, and/or all-female groups or duos, have been nominated for entertainer of the year in the same year. In four of those years, a female act won, proving it's possible for a female act to win even when competing with another female act. Of course, that means in five of the years, both lost.

Here are all the times two female solo artists or all-female groups or duos competed for entertainer of the year — and who won that year.

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