STAR POWER: Taylor Swift Endorsement Leads Thousands to Register Democrat

STAR POWER: Taylor Swift Endorsement Leads Thousands to Register Democrat

Taylor Swift, the famously apolitical pop-star, has thrown her support behind two Democratic candidates in Tennessee with a new Instagram post urging her 112 million followers to vote in the 2018 mid-term elections. The artist was once admired by the internet’s dark trove of alt-righters, projecting their fetish of “hu-whiteness” upon the elusive blonde haired and blue eyed starlet, however, this all changed when she published a lengthy, detailed condemnation of her home state’s own U.S. House of Representatives candidate Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) earlier this week.

Swift cited the congresswoman’s right-wing voting record which includes her effort to deny reauthorizing The Violence Against Women Act, a bill which guarantees legal protection from domestic abuse, stalking and date rape, her opposition to equal pay legislation, her discriminatory stance on LGBTQ rights and the blanket term “systemic racism” as reasons the GOP and Blackburn both “appall and terrify” her. Swift instead endorsed Blackburn’s Democratic rival Jim Cooper and fellow party member Phil Bredesen, who’s running for the Senate seat left vacant by the retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R).

She wrote:

Taylor Swift Vote Democrat

“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country… I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin colour, gender or who they love… as much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn.”

“These are not MY Tennessee values,” she continued, laying out the representative’s positions since taking office in 2003. “Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting!”

And it seems there was no one happier than the aforementioned Vote.org, a supposedly non-partisan organization focused on increasing voting turnout, which gave partial credit of their recent surge in traffic to Miss Swift. By Monday morning, just less than 24 hours after the post went live, the site saw more than 169,000 newly registered voters across the nation, according to spokeswoman Kamari Guthrie who spoke with The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News.

To put it mildly, the pop queen spoke, and her loyal supporters followed. To date, the site has helped secure the voting rights of 240,329 eligible citizens in just the month of October, which is a significant spike from the 56,669 new voters the site registered in August and the 190,178 they registered in September. In Tennessee specifically, where Swift closely focused her endorsement, Vote.org tracked around 2,144 new voter registrations in the 36 hours since the singer’s post. To put this into perspective, October has seen 7,554 new voters compared to the 2,811 in September and 951 in August. Guthrie, while giving comments like “thank God for Taylor Swift,” claims this is also partially standard procedure for election years where “people wait until the deadline to register.”

It’s a mature quote, sure, pulling attention away from stardom praising to remind people to not wait on their civic duties till the last minute, though we can’t deny the power behind celebrity activism. It’s hardly a coincidence that of the thousands of new registrations, more than half were between the ages of 18 to 29, which is the expected target audience for a modern female pop icon. These young voters also overwhelmingly align with Swift with their keen interest in progressive politics. This is why The Post notes Guthrie’s statistics that the site only sees 14,000 average daily visitors, generating 155,940 visitors hours after Swift mentioned the site by name.

“We have never seen a 24- or 36- or 48-hour period like this,” Guthrie told The Post. “This is leaps and bounds beyond what we typically see. One thing is clear, we’re seeing a massive surge in the 18 to 24 and 25 to 29 voters, which is her fan demographic. The 18 to 24 number almost doubled overnight. Taylor Swift’s visibility on this issue is driving a lot of coverage of voter registration, and it’s reaching many of her fans who would not otherwise be following news like this. Overall, we were thrilled, especially to see millennials get involved,” she continued. “Taylor’s post has helped bring out young voters. . . . We’re especially happy to see that because we know voting is habit-forming; statistically, a young person who votes in 2018 is 55 percent more likely to vote again in 2020.”

While it’s unclear how many people specifically registered in the district to vote for either Blackburn or Cooper, Swift’s political declaration shows celebrity icons can significantly impact their political landscapes. How can they not when a former reality television host currently occupies the highest office in the land? External factors apply, of course, from decreases in voter turnout, unpopular electoral competition, voter suppression across the states to just not turning out to vote, though a likable face goes a long way in a country littered with constant celebrity worship. Pair this obsession with how the public generally leaves these voting rights to the deadline date, and you’re witnessing the failure of democracy – now only held together by a pop star and a website.