As more and more celebrities are speaking out and endorsing candidates on both sides of the aisle, Taylor Swift broke her long tradition of political neutrality to endorse her local Tennessee Democratic nominees for the House and Senate.
Although Swift has refrained from being political in the past, the tight Senate race between Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn pushed Swift to take to Instagram to motivate her fans to get out and vote. In a detailed post, Swift mentions the issues most important to her, including “the fight for LGBTQ rights,” putting an end to “systemic racism” and ending “any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender.”
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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. 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 believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. 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. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. 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! 🗳😃🌈
The post caused a significant spike in voter registrations. According to Vote.org, a non-partisan group dedicated to increasing voter turnout, more than 160,000 people registered to vote in the 48 hours after Swift’s post. By comparison, Vote.org only registered 56,669 new voters during the entire month of August.
Swift’s endorsement is the most recent in a long line of celebrities to advocate for political candidates. According to Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who worked most recently for Alabama Senator Doug Jones, celebrity endorsements do more to raise awareness about a race than actually swaying public opinion.
In the past, Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008 increased voter turnout and is attributed to leading to an additional one million votes. Other endorsements from celebrities with mass followings such as Clint Eastwood for Donald Trump or Katy Perry for Hillary Clinton helped give them name recognition.
“People are going to listen to their favorite celebrities,” Weinberg freshman Emily McHugh said. “Obviously, their followers are going to be affected by it.”
Some, such as executive director of voter registration nonprofit HeadCount Andy Bernstein, argue that there should be more posts like Swift’s that get the attention of young voters through social media.
Not everyone was happy to see Swift take to social media to endorse Bredesen and Jim Cooper, the Democratic nominee for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. President Trump told the press: “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now, okay?”
Charlie Kirk, a political commentator from Fox & Friends and Turning Point USA told Swift, “I wish you would’ve not done this. Stay away from politics.” His sentiment echoed what some others feel about celebrities getting involved in politics. Despite their disapproval of Swift’s endorsement, both of them embraced endorsements for Trump from celebrities such as Kanye West.
Others, like Weinberg freshman Megan Nguyen, don’t think there should be any political endorsements from celebrities.
“I don’t think celebrities should do this because a lot of their fan base and their following might not be educated on the topic when it comes to voting, but they might just listen to the celebrity because they’re a fan of them,” she said.
McHugh disagreed, saying, “There’s no way to stop celebrities from endorsing who they want to. They’re people, too.”
In general, states across the U.S. are reporting record numbers of people registering to vote, suggesting that voter turnout will be notably higher than usual this midterm election.