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Taylor Swift: the Grammy record breaker who could shake up the US elections

In recent years, Taylor Swift has become influential on the political scene, with an ever-growing number of "Swifties" listening to what she has to say. Some even believe that she could play a key role in how the next American elections play out

Published: Feb 6, 2024 01:32:19 PM IST
Updated: Feb 6, 2024 01:33:49 PM IST

Taylor Swift: the Grammy record breaker who could shake up the US electionsTaylor Swift had long stayed out of political arena to avoid alienation some of her fans Image: Valerie Macon / AFP

Sunday night, Taylor Swift once again took home the Grammy Award for Best Album of the Year, the fourth time in her career and a record for the event. At the age of 34, she has surpassed American musical legends as Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon. This new award further consolidates her status as a pop icon but her influence extends far beyond the musical sphere. In recent years, Taylor Swift has become influential on the political scene, with an ever-growing number of "Swifties" listening to what she has to say. Some even believe that she could play a key role in how the next American elections play out.

Taylor Swift's appeal on social networks in September to encourage her compatriots to register to vote caused a spike in traffic on the website within the hour, according to NPR. Some believe that her political views could change the course of the American presidential election on November 5, including California Governor Gavin Newsom.

This could well be the case, according to a survey by the magazine Newsweek. The poll revealed that 18% of American voters said they were "more likely" or "significantly more likely" to vote for a candidate endorsed by Taylor Swift. Unsurprisingly, young people would be particularly inclined to follow the singer's voting guidance.

Not that she has actually given any. For a long time, Taylor Swift refrained from making any kind of political comment. Her silence was criticized during the 2016 US presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. On election day, the American singer simply posted a photo on Instagram, in which she could be seen waiting her turn in the line of voters. "Today is the day. Go out and VOTE," she wrote in the caption.

Biden's hope

However, the "Blank Space" singer broke her neutrality on the occasion of the 2018 US midterm elections. At the time, she declared on Instagram that she intended to vote for Democrat candidates in Tennessee, the state in which she grew up. Two years later, the singer announced her official support for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. "Under their leadership, I believe America has a chance to start the healing process it so desperately needs," she told V Magazine at the time.

In itself, there was nothing extraordinary about this stance. Other highly influential American personalities had already publicly backed Joe Biden. But it marked a turning point in the career of an artist who had long maintained a certain distance from the political sphere, in order not to lose any of her fans.

From then on, the artist no longer seemed afraid to express certain political affinities, especially when it came to defending sexual and racial minorities, and protecting abortion rights. Joe Biden's entourage no doubt hopes that the singer will be sympathetic to the fact that the current occupant of the White House has placed sexual and reproductive rights at the heart of his re-election campaign. They might even hold out hope for an official endorsement.

Indeed, Taylor Swift's obvious influence on her young compatriots could encourage them to get more involved in the November elections. This could be the stuff of dreams for the Democrat camp, as this segment of the population can swing the vote in favor of either candidate. In fact, only 48% of 18-29 year-olds went to the polls in 2020. It therefore seems essential to mobilize them in the months leading up to the election. To this end, the Biden clan is reportedly toying with the idea of sending the president to one of the concerts in Taylor Swift's current Eras tour, according to the New York Times.

Also read: Grammys 2024: Taylor Swift creates history with Album of the Year win

From criticism to political bandwagoning

If the singer's notoriety is coveted, she is also fiercely criticized. Presenters from the conservative Fox News channel, such as Jeanine Pirro and Charly Arnolt, warned her, on air, to stay out of politics, while others questioned her real motives. Presenter Jesse Watters even pondered whether Taylor Swift might be "a Pentagon PsyOp asset," as some American conspiracy theorists claim.

Her relationship with Travis Kelce, star of the Kansas City Chiefs American football team, is also the subject of much speculation in the press and on the internet. Ex-Republican primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speculated on X (formerly Twitter) that the Chiefs' run to the National Football League grand final could be anything but coincidental. "I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month. And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall. Just some wild speculation over here, let’s see how it ages over the next 8 months," he wrote in a post.

While there's no denying that Taylor Swift is more powerful than ever in the USA, she holds just as much sway beyond the borders of her native country. In Mexico, some politicians pride themselves on being "Swifties" to give themselves a younger, more accessible image. Arturo Zaldívar, former president of Mexico's Supreme Court, regularly posts content related to the American superstar on his TikTok account. He even shared a video in which he is seen at one of her concerts, shimmying and exchanging friendship bracelets with fans of the singer. His pro-Taylor posts have earned him the nickname "Minister Swiftie" in the Mexican press. But it remains to be seen whether this will breathe new life into his career.