Taylor Swift's Instagram post spurs spike in US voter registration

They never see it coming, what she does next -- this is how the world works, it's the Taylor Swift effect.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
3 min read
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Global superstar Taylor Swift caused a spike in voter registration across the US on Monday, according to Vote.org, largely on the back of a single Instagram post.

One day after she concluded the US leg of her reputation stadium tour, Swift published a post on Instagram and Tumblr declaring her support for two Tennessee Democrat candidates in the upcoming midterm elections and encouraging people to register to vote and do their homework on candidates. Her post, published Sunday, garnered over 1.7 million likes on Instagram and over 33,000 likes and reblogs on Tumblr.

For Swift, these numbers aren't even that remarkable -- her Instagram posts, especially her selfies, often gain well over 2 million likes on the platform. But the post's impact went far beyond racking up numbers of virtual interactions, Kamari Guthrie, Vote.org's director of communications, told Buzzfeed. It also boosted the number of people registering to vote.

The organization saw 65,000 registrations in a 24-hour period following the post, versus 190,178 registrations in the whole month of September. The impact in Swift's home state of Tennessee was even more pronounced, with 2,144 registrations since she spoke out, compared to 2,811 throughout September.

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The spike could also be also be partly down to the fact that registration closes this week, but Guthrie thinks the singer's influence counts for a significant proportion of the registrations. "Thank God for Taylor Swift," said Guthrie.

Neither Vote.org nor Swift's team responded immediately to a request for further comment.

Measuring the influence of celebrity endorsement for politicians is far from an exact science, but many famous people do feel as though they should use their platforms to help create change in the world. When they don't, they are often criticized for it -- as Swift knows all too well.

Until now, the singer has kept her political views private, which has been a bone of contention among her critics. But things have changed. At the end of 2017, Time Magazine named her a "silence breaker" following a sexual assault trial in which she was victorious. She has also been increasingly vocal about supporting her LGBT fans and made a heartfelt speech celebrating pride at her Chicago show in June.

"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," Swift wrote in her Instagram post. 

Still, the blowback was real. Swift was criticized for the views she expressed by Republicans and users of alt-right forums as well as by President Donald Trump, who claimed he now likes her music "25 percent less." But at the same time she was widely praised by celebrities and fans across social media for taking a stance on racism, equal pay, violence against women and LGBT issues.

Read the full below:

View this post on Instagram

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! 🗳😃🌈

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