Taylor Swift gets young voters out to the polls, affects elections – USA TODAY

Pop superstar Taylor Swift might have helped register enough voters in a single day last September to swing close races in multiple states, with turnout experts predicting a strong youth vote for the 2024 presidential election.
After an Instagram post by Swift, a record of more than 30,000 people signed up through Vote.org during National Voter Registration Day, many of them teens who will be eligible to vote in this fall’s election. Among the top states for those new registrations: Texas, California, New York, Illinois and Florida.
Swift’s fanbase tends to be younger and more liberal than the country overall, and although the new voter registrations aren’t likely enough to affect the presidential election, several 2022 U.S. House races were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes, including in Colorado where Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert won her 2022 reelection by 546 votes.
Experts say there’s every indication youth voting will be high again this year, as it was in 2020.
“The younger generation is really starting to connect the dots between what they care about and participation numbers,” said Andrea Hailey, the CEO of nonpartisan Vote.org, which registered 279,400 new voters last year. “When you have someone registering 30,000 votes at a time it absolutely can have an impact.”
Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide
Youth-voting turnout has long been a concern for experts who note that millions of potential voters just don’t bother: In the 2020 election, about 48% of eligible voters aged 18-29 cast a ballot, compared with 73% of people aged 65-74. In 2016 only about 40% of young people voted. Hailey said about 80% of the people who Vote.org registers actually cast ballots in the next election.
There are about 170 million registered voters in the United States, and the state where Swift had the biggest single-day impact was Texas, with about 2,700 new registrations, and 4,562 over the following 10 days. Overall, Texas has about 17.7 million registered voters.
Vote.org partners with influencers, including Swift, to reach potential voters, in particular young people. It also partners with micro-influencers at historically black colleges and universities, other musicians and performers, echoing the work done by Rock the Vote with MTV starting in the 1990s.
Read more:Who are the 2024 presidential candidates? These are the Republicans and Democrats running.
Elections experts at Tufts University’s nonpartisan Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement have identified several states where youth voting turnout could make a significant difference this year. Among them: Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona for the presidential race; Arizona, Ohio and Montana for Senate races; and House races in Michigan, Oregon and New York.
“We’ve been in a period of historically high, record-setting youth participation, and it certainly has made a difference and shaped election results,” said CIRCLE spokesman Alberto Medina. “There’s a growing recognition that the youth vote is both valuable and powerful.”
In her post last fall, Swift encouraged her 278 million followers worldwide to participate in the upcoming elections, but didn’t endorse any candidates or positions.
“I’ve been so lucky to see so many of you guys at my U.S. shows recently,” she posted to her Instagram account. “I’ve heard you raise your voices, and I know how powerful they are. Make sure you’re ready to use them in our elections this year!”
Swift has repeatedly urged her fans to vote, although she usually remains neutral about candidates.
But in 2018 she endorsed two Democratic candidates for Congress in Tennessee, citing her opposition to Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn won with 54.7% of the vote for a U.S. Senate seat, beating Swift’s preferred candidate Phil Bredesen. Swift’s other endorsed candidate, Jim Cooper, won his House race.
In a documentary that captured Swift’s conversations with family and staff when considering those 2018 endorsements, she worried aloud that she should have more forcefully condemned Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. In 2020, Swift declared to Trump “we will vote you out.”
Swift superfan Tess Bohne, 32, sees the performer’s authenticity and vulnerability as key to both connecting with her audiences and persuading them to listen when she speaks ‒ even when she occasionally gets political.
“Taylor puts herself in this glass bowl, where she puts her vulnerabilities, the ugly parts, the beautiful parts, on display,” said Bohne, a Salt Lake City resident who livestreams Swift concerts on her TikTok to more than 300,000 followers. “Through her vulnerabilities, she’s giving us this level of trust. She trusts us with her vulnerabilities and we trust her so that when she says ‘go vote,’ we think it’s important to her, so it’s important to us.”
Bohne said she admires how Swift lifted up the band formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, whose members saw their country-music careers tank in 2003 after criticizing President George W. Bush over the pending invasion of Iraq. Swift has invited members of the band now known as The Chicks to perform with her live, and featured them in an emotional 2019 song about her mother’s cancer fight.
“It’s that level of respect that allows us fans to see the love and care, and to trust her even more,” Bohne said. “It’s like having this friend you hold in respect: You don’t take everything as absolute, but there’s a level of trust.”
To come up to speed:When is the next presidential election? Everything to know about Election Day 2024.
Swift’s positions and influence have also been noted by conservative groups, and FOX News presenter Jesse Watters on Jan. 9 speculated aloud that Pentagon officials were using Swift as a “psyop,” or a psychological operation, intended to influence the public into voting a certain way.
Watters’ guest, former FBI Special Agent Stuart Kaplan noted that Swift has an outsize influence: “She can potentially single-handedly swing voters because of just the amount of followers that she can potentially influence.”
European officials have also taken notice of Swift’s influence. European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas on Feb. 10 urged Swift to encourage young people to vote in the upcoming EU elections.

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