October 15, 2018
Taylor Swift's Instagram Post Helps Lead To Surge In Registration Among Younger Voters

Taylor Swift is getting out the vote.

Over 400,000 people, including around 250,000 under 30, have registered to vote with Vote.org since Swift posted an endorsement of Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and Democratic House candidate Jim Cooper on Instagram, Uproxx reports. The post, which also called out Bredesen's opponent, representative Marsha Blackburn, for her stances on LGBTQ and women's rights, specifically pointed Swift's fans to the registration website. And they've responded.

"There is no question that Taylor Swift and many other musicians have had a positive impact on voter registration," Andy Bernstein, executive director of voter registration nonprofit HeadCount, told CNBC. "What was great about Taylor Swift's message is that it was truly from the heart and ultimately had a very universal call for participation."

Swift has historically maintained a politically neutral image, and hasn't previously publicly commented on an election race, let alone endorsed a candidate. Within days of her breaking her political silence and weighing in on the Tennessee races, registration was soaring.

According to Bernstein, "HeadCount has tracked over 50,000 voter registrations coming directly from artists posting on social media in the last few years. It's a proven method, and clearly Taylor Swift's post made the biggest ripple ever."

A New York Times poll released Friday shows Blackburn still leading Bredesen by 14 points. But experts don't believe that's the whole story.

"It's not so much about changing minds as getting people who aren't paying attention," said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who's worked on campaigns by prominent Democrats Howard Dean, Jerry Brown and recent Alabama Senate seat winner Doug Jones. Trippi attributes an endorsement of Jones by Charles Barkley as energizing young voters and helping Jones win the race. "So it can make a difference, not because of changing minds but because you're getting the attention and focus of groups that aren't big turnout demographics."

Swift's post had the added effect of angering some of her own fans, particularly those on the far right. Because of her neutrality many of the so-called alt-right believed she may have been a secret supporter of their agenda, including white nationalism and white supremacy. Business Insider reports that in the aftermath of her post, those same alt-right fans were using message board 4chan, which is a hub of alt-right online activity, to call her a traitor, though the perception of her as an "Aryan princess" who supported right wing causes had no basis in anything she had ever publicly said or done.