People’s Choice Awards Race Heats Up Between ‘Comedic TV Actress’ Rivals Kaley Cuoco, Sofia Vergara

The People’s Choice Awards are now just weeks away, bringing into question exactly who will bring home the coveted 2016 trophy for “Favorite Comedic TV Actress.”

With just hours remaining before online voting polls close — at 11:59 p.m. EST — Design & Trend is reporting that there is a virtual dead heat between two-time incumbent People’s Choice winner Kaley Cuoco (CBS’s The Big Bang Theory) and Sofia Vergara (ABC’s Modern Family). The site is projecting a too-close-to-call matchup between the two “strong contenders,” noting that each woman has established a strong and popular enough body of work to bring home one of the top awards.

Vergara, now 43, has previously been nominated in 2013 and 2015, and was bested last year by her 29-year-old peer for the People’s Choice. Design & Trend is questioning, however, if Cuoco’s past success as an awards nominee and winner are enough of an assurance that she can “notch the much-coveted recognition once again.”

People's Choice Award candidate Sofia Vergara

In fact, Design & Trend is speculating that this year’s winner between the two women — who recently tied for the lead in Forbes‘ September list of the top-paid television actresses at $28.5 million each — comes down to much more than past performances at the People’s Choice Awards.

One area to analyze is TV ratings success, which is a field in which Cuoco’s Big Bang Theory traditionally leads Vergara’s Modern Family as the show of choice across most metrics, according to the Associated Press and Daily Mail. This includes the coveted 18-49-year-old demographic.

“No one is coming close to challenging ‘The Big Bang Theory’ when Americans turn on prime-time television in search of a few laughs,” said the AP of the People’s Choice nominee’s program. “The Nielsen company’s ratings last week illustrate the CBS comedy’s dominance.”

Kaley Cuoco wins People's Choice Award 2014

As strong of a ratings lead as Cuoco has held over her rival, however, Design & Trend believes that she falls way short in terms of social media account destination of choice among fans.

“When it comes to number of social media followers, Vergara is way ahead of Cuoco. Joe Manganiello’s wife boasts 8.7 million followers on Twitter, 5.9 million on Instagram and 8.4 million on Facebook,” stated the Web site of the 2016 People’s Choice rivals. “Ryan Sweeting’s estranged wife [Cuoco] only has… one million on Instagram and 2.6 million on Facebook.”

It should also be noted that social media fans have not always been kind to the popular CBS star better known to the masses as Penny. In particular, last year’s People’s Choice winner came under fire in 2014 for comments she made in a Redbook interview that some perceived as disparaging to the feminist movement. Cuoco would respond to the criticism fired against her with the following:

“In my Redbook article, some people have taken offense to my comments regarding feminism- if any of you are In the “biz” you are well aware of how words can be taken out of context. I’m completely blessed and grateful that strong women have paved the way for my success along with many others. I apologize if anyone was offended. Anyone that truly knows me, knows my heart and knows what I meant.”

Regardless of each actress’ popularity, however, the ultimate decision on an awards winner will rest squarely with the fans who vote via the People’s Choice Awards website, the People’s Choice mobile app, or via Facebook before midnight EST this evening.

Other awards nominees for “Favorite Comedic TV Actress” include Zooey Deschanel (Fox’s New Girl), Anna Farris (CBS’s Mom), and Melissa McCarthy (CBS’s Mike & Molly).

The 2016 incarnation of the People’s Choice Awards will air at 9 p.m. EST (8 p.m. CST) on Wednesday, January 6, 2016, on CBS. The festivities take place live from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater.

[Image credited to Kevin Winter/Getty Images]