Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Politics

Taylor Swift’s endorsement of Democrats causes spike in voter registrations

Look what Taylor Swift made you do.

In a surprise Instagram post Sunday, the music megastar broke her long silence on politics and encouraged her more than 112 million followers on the platform to register to vote.

It seems some of them rushed to do just that, according to Vote.org, a nonpartisan group that seeks to increase voter turnout.

In the less than 48 hours after Swift’s post, Vote.org has seen more than 105,000 new voter registrations through its site, spokeswoman Kamari Guthrie told The Washington Post on Tuesday.

That put the number of new voters registered through the site for October at 153,978. By comparison, the group said there were 56,669 new voters registered in August and 190,178 registered in September.

Vote.org is working on comparing registration to 2016 figures to see how much of spike occurred that year just before voter registration deadlines, Guthrie said. As is the case in many states, Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote in Tennessee in time for the Nov. 6 election.

While Guthrie can’t say for sure yet how much Swift directly affected the spike in registrations, Vote.org saw a definite jump in traffic in the wake of her Instagram post. Vote.org typically sees 14,078 average daily visitors, Guthrie said. In the 24 hours after Swift’s post - which specifically mentioned Vote.org - the site saw 155,940 visitors.

In Tennessee, where Swift is registered to vote, Vote.org tracked 2,144 new voter registrations in the 36 hours since the singer’s post, bringing October’s to-date total to 5,183 - a sharp increase from 2,811 registrations in September and 951 in August.

Among the new registrations since Sunday, more than half were by those between the ages of 18 and 29.

"Overall, we were thrilled, especially to see millennials get involved," Guthrie said. "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."

In her post Sunday, Swift vowed to vote for two Democratic candidates: former governor Phil Bredesen for the U.S. Senate and Rep. Jim Cooper for reelection. She also acknowledged her past reticence to address political issues but said that had changed in the past two years:

"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," she wrote. "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."

Swift also blasted Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Bredesen’s Republican opponent in the Senate race, for having voted against those values.

"As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn," Swift wrote. "Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me."

Swift implored her followers to "please, please educate yourself" on their local candidates and to vote.

"For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100 percent on every issue, but we have to vote anyway," Swift wrote. "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."

Swift’s Instagram post was welcomed by Democrats in Tennessee, where polls show Blackburn and Bredesen are in a tight race to replace Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

President Donald Trump, who has hailed Blackburn as an "outstanding person & great supporter of mine," brushed off Swift’s Instagram post Monday night.

"I’m sure Taylor Swift doesn’t know anything about (Blackburn)," Trump said. "Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now, OK?"

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