Did Taylor Swift’s Instagram Post Really Mobilize Last-Minute Voter Registrations?

‘Thank God for Taylor Swift…’

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(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) For the site Vote.org, Tuesday, Oct. 9 was probably the equivalent of what Black Friday is to most retailers. Or at least Dec. 24.

In 18 states, the cutoff to register to vote is 30 days before the election—which, for the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm, just so happened to fall on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Thus, it seemed a bit unlikely when Vote.org’s communications director, Kamari Guthrie, dispatched a press release and told sites like Buzzfeed News that Taylor Swift was responsible for a massive surge in unique visitors and registrations since Sunday.

“Thank God for Taylor Swift,” Guthrie said.

On Monday, the country-turned-pop starlet issued an Instagram post to her 112 million followers endorsing the two Democratic Congressional candidates from her native Tennessee. In it, she name-checked Vote.org and also reminded voters about the impending Tuesday registration deadline.

According to the numbers, a day after the post, Vote.org received an estimated 105,000 new registrants, of which about 65,000 were in the 18-29 range. The total number of September registrations was about 190,000.

The 155,940 unique visitors it received in a 24-hour span was second highest only to Sept. 25, which was National Voter Registration Day, when it received 304,942 unique visits.

 

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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! 🗳😃🌈

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Granted, Swift’s post was indeed newsworthy. Marking her first foray into the realm of insufferable celebrity political advocacy, the post garnered more than 2 million likes. And while it probably did direct a few 18-year-olds to the Vote.org site, it hardly deserves all the credit.

Not only was Tuesday the last chance for voters in many states to register, but it also followed a week—make that a month—of historic significance as the two parties drew battle lines over the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Democrats doubled down on promises that they would leverage their subpoena powers to re-open key investigations, with some going so far as to declare they would impeach both President Donald Trump and Kavanaugh as soon as they retake the majority.

Meanwhile, Republicans, with optimism riding high due to a booming economy, made the full funding of the border wall a midterm issue—not to mention the possibility that a forgetful Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, could mean another Supreme Court seat will open up before 2020.

Though reasons were legion for registering, the clever team at Vote.org (which, incidentally, is the top Google result for the search “voter registration last minute”) saw a window to capitalize on Swift’s post–and who can blame them?

It was a wonderful marketing gimmick to credit it to Swift—and thereby give the impression that Tennessee may be bracing for a blue wave—but just as much credit goes to Google, and to the last-minute, procrastinating impulses of Americans everywhere, even for what may be unprecedented turnout in a midterm election.