Emmys 2011: Who Deserves the Award for Best Actor in a Drama?

Whoever wins the 2011 Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series should probably thank the suits at AMC. Because the network scheduled the fourth season premiere of Breaking Bad after the Emmy eligibility period for the 2010-11 TV season, its star Bryan Cranston won’t be competing for the statuette that he’s won the last three years.

Cranston’s absence increases the chances for a first-time win by Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm or Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall, both of whom are nominated in the category for the fourth consecutive year; Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler, in the race for the second straight year; or perhaps House‘s Hugh Laurie, who’s up for the sixth time in the last seven years. That quartet will take on Steve Buscemi and Timothy Olyphant, who join the Emmy battle for the first time for their respective series Boardwalk Empire and Justified.

Which one of these fine gentlemen most deserves to take that proud walk to the podium when the Emmys are handed out Sept.18? Take our poll below to vote for your favorite — TVLine voting closes Sept. 13, so act now! — then hit the comments to justify your pick!

Every afternoon for the next month, we’ll launch another “Who Should Win” Emmy poll, so come back to TVLine.com every day to weigh in on who’s most worthy of TV’s biggest honor, and to stay up to speed on all our races, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!