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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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From pop-icon to political powerhouse: Taylor Swift's influence on the 2024 election

Taylor Swift is known for her record-breaking songs and high-grossing tours, but some sources say the pop icon may be an important figure in politics this fall.

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has been a huge figure for young Americans since 2006. A centerpiece conversation in U.S. politics and economic quarries, the pop star also offers an unexpected and important role in influencing voter turnout in the upcoming presidential election. 

Last September, Swift posted a message on Instagram encouraging her followers to register to vote through Voter.org. Over 35,000 registrations were recorded the day of Swift’s post. The new registrations on National Voter Registration Day were the most since 2020, according to NPR, and the number of 18-year-olds registered was more than double in 2022.

“When an artist like Taylor Swift, who is overwhelmingly well regarded by young women, urges her fans to vote, of course, it is a significant moment,” said Whitman Bottari, communications director for the University of Wisconsin-Madison College Democrats . 

Marianna Pecora, communications director of Voters of Tomorrow, a Gen Z-run voter organization, told The Daily Cardinal the younger generation is “issue-driven not party-driven,” but it is unclear whether celebrity endorsements matter.

“Celebrity endorsements have long been a part of politics, especially when it comes to presidential politics and I think the question of whether or not they matter has yet to be answered,” Pecora said. 

The Republican Party has been aggravated with Swift since her Time Magazine win of “Person of the Year,” according to The New York Times. Swift previously endorsed Joe Biden for the 2020 presidential election. 

Far-right conspiracy theorists have speculated Swift is part of a Pentagon-organized plan with the Democratic Party to ensure Biden's win. The U.S. Department of Defense has since shut down this claim.

Swift’s influence on young voters was enough to get former President Donald Trump to say he “like[s] Taylor’s music about 25% less now” after Swift endorsed Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen in the October 2018 Tennessee Senate race.  

“If Republicans are so worried that just [Swift] telling people to vote — not even endorsing a candidate yet — will hurt their chances, that tells me they might need to look inward and do some soul searching about how they got here in the first place,” Pecora said. 

College Republicans of UW-Madison chairman Thomas Pyle told the Cardinal most celebrities reinforce liberal views. 

“Hollywood and celebrities are always going to have an opinion and that’s most likely going to be a liberal opinion but they have every right to share it. They will influence the election whether that’s registering more voters, which is an awesome thing, or supporting Biden which they have every right to do,” Pyle said. 

Additionally, Pyle said his organization does not fully associate with GOP concerns and believes Swift has been “relatively apolitical.” 

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At the beginning of Swift’s career, she was silent on politics, claiming she did not feel educated enough and had seen too many country singers — such as the Dixie Chicks — disappear due to their outspoken political beliefs.

In 2018, Swift began to hint at her own political beliefs with the release of her album Lover, which contains songs many fans interpreted to be in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Swift’s political views became clear in 2022 when she responded to a tweet from Michelle Obama sharing her thoughts on the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade on Twitter.

“I’m absolutely terrified that this is where we are - that after so many decades of people fighting for women’s rights to their own bodies, today’s decision has stripped us of that,” Swift wrote.

Despite that, Swift has stayed relatively silent on issues pertaining to the political realm.

In Swift’s 2020 documentary, “Miss Americana,” the singer opened up about the potential harm in expressing political opinions with a large platform and diverse fanbase.

“Part of the fabric of being a country artist is don’t force your politics on people,” Swift said in the documentary. “Let people live their lives. That is grilled into us.”

But in the 2018 midterms, Swift broke her silence after Marsha Blackburn ran for U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Swift said Blackburn stood for everything Swift didn't, including anti-women and anti-LGBTQ legislation. 

Despite Blackburn’s win, Swift's efforts increased Tennessee youth voter turnout with 50,000 last-minute registered voters, according to the documentary.

And two years after the election, Swift wrote "You Need To Calm Down," a song about LGBTQ+ equality whose music video featured prominent figures in the community such as the Queer Eye Netflix series cast.  

After 2020, Swift distanced herself from partisan political activism and has not spoken about the upcoming 2024 election beyond posting the voter registration link in September. 

Still, “the policies and political stances Taylor Swift has taken over the last few years broadly align with those that Gen Z supports,” Pecorca said.

Swift’s fame is at a high this year after winning a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, releasing her re-recorded albums and holding the highest-grossing concert tour of all time.

“While not all of her fans will vote democratic, it’s important that young people are engaging in the democratic process,” Bottari said. 

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