Taylor Swift holds many titles: international superstar, enemy of Kanye West, and now, political activist. For the entirety of her career, Swift’s lack of political commentary has been a point of criticism for many, especially considering her stature. Many believe this was a business move so as to not alienate part of her fan base. However, Swift’s Instagram post on October 7th was a stark contrast to her nonpolitical persona thus far.
Taylor Swift instantly made headlines for her Instagram post in which she endorsed Democratic candidates in her home state of Tennessee. Swift states her opinions on the upcoming midterm elections outright saying, “I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.” Swift goes on to write that she cannot support U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn based on her Congressional voting record against women and LGBTQ rights. Swift will vote Democrat in November, supporting Phil Bredesen for U.S. Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives.
Swift ends her post by encouraging her fans, especially her younger ones, to vote. She urges everyone to do their research on candidates running in their own states and to make informed decisions.
Many sites have reported that Swift’s Instagram post led to a spike (upwards of 169,000) in voter registration on Vote.org, the site Swift plugged at the end of her post. At first glance, this may seem like the huge influence of Swift at play. However, this was also very close to the voting registration deadline. There is no definitive correlation between the post and the spike, because many people wait until the last second to register anyway. However, Vote.org did report that more than half of these new voters were between the ages of 18-29.
Ten days later, on October 17, Taylor Swift posted yet another time, encouraging her fans to vote. The focus of this post however, was early voting. Swift was advertising Tennessee’s early voting period which started that day and continues until November 1. She also posted a link for the dates across the U.S. for early voting in her Instagram bio.
In the age of boycotting brands and goods, Taylor Swift played this one well. The North American leg of her Reputation tour just ended in Texas the day before her first Instagram post. She will continue her tour in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan before it ends in late November. Swift has a large Republican fan base, due to her Southern, red state roots and her career start in country music. These fans were very unhappy about her support of Democrats for midterms. Even President Trump was caught on video saying “Let’s just say I like Taylor’s music about 25% less now, OK?” However, since Swift waited to post, she did not alienate part of her fan base or lose out on any money for this tour.
The only other time Taylor Swift has gotten slightly political was during her 2017 sexual assault trial against a radio personality. During the trial, that man sued Swift for defamation of character. Swift counter sued looking for only one dollar. Swift won the case and subsequently promised to make donations to sexual assault networks.
Some have argued that this post has just been a way for Swift to get media attention and attract more fans and more money. Publicity stunt or not, it is important that stars as big as Taylor Swift encourage fans- especially young ones- to do research and vote in upcoming elections.
Visit Vote.org to register, check registration status, and get your absentee ballots before the deadlines for your states.