The famously apolitical pop star backed Tennessee Democrat Phil Bredesen over the weekend, adding that Republican Marsha Blackburn’s voting record ‘appalls and terrifies’ her.
A lot more voters are ready to fill in some blank space on the ballot.
Tens of thousands of people registered to vote after Taylor Swift’s surprise move this weekend to break her long-held political silence, BuzzFeed News reports. Vote.org saw a surge of 65,000 registrations over one 24-hour period after Swift’s post endorsing two Tennessee Democrats and slamming the record of Republican Senate hopeful Marsha Blackburn, director of communications Kamari Guthrie told the site.
The entire month of September saw 190,178 new voters registered nationwide, the site reported, while August saw 56,669 registered.
“Vote.org saw (Tennessee) registrations spike specifically since Taylor’s post,” Guthrie added, telling BuzzFeed that of the state’s 5,183 registrations so far in October, at least 2,144 came in the past day and a half. The entirety of September had 2,811 new registrations in the state, while August had 951.
Swift provided a link to Vote.org on Sunday in her Instagram post, in which she explained to her 112 million followers that “several events in my life and in the world in the past two years” had led her to finally take a political stance in Tennessee, where she is registered to vote. The singer spoke out in favor of LGBTQ rights and against discrimination and systemic racism, backing Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and House candidate Jim Cooper. She added that Blackburn’s congressional voting record on issues like equal pay, the Violence Against Women Act and marriage equality “appalls and terrifies” her.
“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,” she 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. 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 marked an unexpected departure from Swift’s longstanding reluctance to wade into politics. She voiced vague support for former President Barack Obama in a 2009 Rolling Stone profile and included pro-marriage equality lyrics on her 2014 tourism anthem “Welcome to New York,” but has generally avoided the political fray.
Ahead of the 2012 election, Swift told Time magazine she didn’t talk politics “because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.” She later faced criticism for declining to condemn then-candidate Donald Trump before the 2016 presidential election, having simply posted a call to “Go out and VOTE.”
Swift, a global pop megastar whose estimated net worth in 2018 totaled $320 million, could hold some clout in the Tennessee election. As Democratic Tennessee politician Christopher J. Hale recently wrote in Time, Bredesen’s path to victory “lies in the suburban communities outside of the state’s three biggest cities — Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. The biggest swing-voting demographic there is women. In short, Taylor Swift’s fan base.”
And though the singer’s appeal stretches across age groups — as many Swifties reminded former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee after he dismissed her outreach to “13 yr old girls” — Swift’s push to get out the vote could help with young people, who have a dismal midterm turnout record. While millennials are the most Democratic and liberal of all the generations, just under 20% of folks aged 18 to 29 cast ballots in the 2014 midterm elections.
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