On Sunday night, October 7, Taylor Swift made a rare political statement on Instagram, endorsing the Democratic nominees for Tennessee’s Senate and House of Representatives (Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper, respectively). Soon after, her post racked up more than 1.7 million likes and started trending on Twitter.
“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,” she wrote in the caption. “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.” Swift ended her post with a call to action, urging everyone—particularly her fans in Tennessee—to register to vote.
And now, we might be seeing the effect of Swift’s message. Vote.org is up 65,000 voter registrations in the last 24 hours, according to Kamari Guthrie, director of communications for the website. (Swift directed fans specifically to the site in her Instagram post.) According to BuzzFeed, 190,178 voters were registered in September and 56,669 were registered in August—so the fact Swift caused a 65,000 spike in just 24 hours is impressive.
Swift’s home state of Tennessee also had a similar jump. “Vote.org saw [Tennessee] registrations spike specifically since Taylor’s post,” Guthrie told BuzzFeed. The website received 5,183 new registrations in Tennessee this month, and 2,144 of those came from the last 36 hours. Compare that to the 2,811 new voter registrations for all of September and just 951 in August. Vote.org even had a spike in traffic after Swift’s post, with 155,940 unique visitors checking out the site in the past 24 hours, according to BuzzFeed. That’s a new high for Vote.org, coming only behind the 304,942 visitors who went to the site on National Voter Registration Day (September 25).
Of course, not everyone is behind Swift’s message. Conservative men came out in droves yesterday to criticize the singer. “What I used to love about Taylor Swift is she stayed away from politics,” Charlie Kirk, the founder and president of Turning Point USA, said on Fox & Friends.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) even took shots at Swift’s fans. “So @taylorswift13 has every right to be political but it won’t impact election unless we allow 13 yr old girls to vote,” he posted on Monday morning. “Still with #MarshaBlackburn.” The Swifties quickly hit back at Huckabee for his faulty logic. “I love how everyone thinks her fanbase is only 13 year olds,” one wrote. “She’s been in the business for 12 years, so a lot of her fanbase are in their 20s and 30s now. I’m 24.”
Even President Donald Trump put in his two-cents. “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now,” he said when asked about Swift’s endorsements.
How this will affect Swift’s career at large is still a mystery. The singer wrapped the U.S. leg of her Reputation Stadium Tour before releasing this statement, so there won’t be any new ticket sales to analyze. Some have speculated she may lose followers on Twitter or Instagram, but her numbers have by and large stayed the same over the past two days. We clocked Swift’s Instagram followers yesterday at 112,086,524. Today, we recorded 112,119,128. On Twitter, she’s at 83,553,485 followers; we noted 83,540,926 yesterday. (We also reached out to Instagram and Twitter for comment and will update with that information.)
As an artist with a devout country fanbase—many of whom are conservative—Swift is risking her popularity by speaking out. But it seems Swift isn’t thinking about what’s good or bad for business. She’s thinking about the wellbeing of her legion of female and queer fans, who will be some of the people most affected by these midterm elections. As she wrote in her post, “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.”