Celebrities being paid to endorse products or companies is nothing new to the world of social media. But to have a top-selling pop star endorse a political party is something that is relatively unusual.
Political Celebrity Influencers
6x platinum-selling recording artist Taylor Swift recently broke her silence on politics and urged her 112 million Instagram followers to carefully vote in the elections. ‘Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values’. Although this call-to-action was aimed at all of her Instagram followers, the main target of her Instagram post was to urge residents of her home state, Tennessee to register to vote as the deadline was fast approaching.
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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! 🗳😃🌈
Was the Endorsement Effective?
In the 24 hour period after the singer posted her statement on Instagram, there were 65,000 new registrations across the US. In Tennessee, a total of 5,183 new voter registrations were received. Of these, at least 2,144 occurred after Swift posted her statement to Instagram. Whilst it is extremely hard to track just how effective Taylor Swift and other celebrities’ posts have been, Andy Bernstein, executive director of voter registration nonprofit HeadCount, has tracked over 50,000 voter registrations that have come as a result of to celebrity posts on social media.
Celebrity Influence: More examples
It wasn’t just Taylor Swift speaking up and urging her followers to register to vote. A number of other celebrities are known for speaking up about politics. In 2018, Kanye West was vocal in his support for Donald Trump, wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat on promo photos for Saturday Night Live. He later wore the same hat again on a later Instagram post. Whilst West and Swift endorsed candidates in their recent social media posts, a number of celebrities have chosen to stay nonpartisan in their posts, simply just urging their followers to vote. This includes the likes of Rihanna, Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito.