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Fame and celebrity

Pop star Taylor Swift rocks the vote and registrations spike following Instagram post denouncing Republican senator

Among the 169,000 new voter registrations on Vote.org since Sunday, more than half were by those ages 18 to 29

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 4:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 7:43am

Music megastar Taylor Swift broke her long silence on politics and encouraged her more than 112 million followers on the platform to register to vote in a surprise Instagram post on Sunday that slammed a Tennessee Republican running for Senate.

It seems as though some of them rushed to do just that, according to Vote.org, a non-partisan group that seeks to increase voter turnout. As of noon Tuesday, less than 48 hours after Swift’s post, more than 169,000 new people had registered on the site to vote, said spokeswoman Kamari Guthrie on Tuesday.

That put the number of new voters registered on the site in October, to date, at 240,329. By comparison, the group said 56,669 new voters registered in August and 190,178 registered in September. In October 2016, there were 405,149 new registrations on Vote.org for the whole month.

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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!

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Oct 7, 2018 at 4:33pm PDT

In her post, Swift vowed to vote for two Democratic candidates: former governor Phil Bredesen for the US Senate and Representative Jim Cooper for re-election.

She singled out for criticism Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican running for the US Senate seat vacated by Bob Corker, because “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.”

She also acknowledged her past reluctance to address political issues but said that had changed in the past two years.

Guthrie said it is difficult to credit Swift directly for the spike in registrations because there is usually some kind of a surge just before voter registration deadlines, in election years, since “people wait until the deadline to register”. Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote in Tennessee in time for the November 6 election.

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However, among the 169,000 new registrations since Sunday, more than half were by those ages 18 to 29.

“One thing is clear, we’re seeing a massive surge in the 18-24 and 25-29 voters, which is her fan demographic. The 18-24 number almost doubled overnight,” Guthrie said. “Taylor Swift’s visibility on this issue is driving a lot of coverage of voter registration and it’s reaching many of her fans who would not otherwise be following news like this.”

The 18-24 number [of registered voters] almost doubled overnight
Vote.org spokeswoman Kamari Guthrie

Vote.org also saw a definite jump in traffic in the wake of her Instagram post. The site typically has 14,078 average daily visitors, Guthrie said. In the 24 hours after Swift’s post – which specifically mentioned Vote.org – the site had 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 7,554 – a sharp increase from 2,811 registrations in September and 951 in August.

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“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 per cent more likely to vote again in 2020.”