The Taylor Swift effect...The impact of celebrity endorsements in politics
Excerpt: Last week, pop star Taylor Swift made waves by breaking her stance of political neutrality, and backing Democratic congressional candidates in her home state of Tennessee.
The effect of Swift's surprise endorsement, which was made via an Instagram post, were felt right away, as thousands of people between the ages of 18 and 29 registered to vote, according to Vote.org.
Bottom Line: I’ll start with the most direct point about the “Taylor Swift” effect. Her specific endorsement was of Democrat Phil Bredesen in Tennessee’s US Senate race. At the time of the endorsement Marsha Blackburn’s lead in the race was averaging three points in the three most recent accredited polls prior to Swift’s endorsement. As of today, that lead is now averaging 9 points. Most media is predictably rooting for Taylor Swift to become politically relevant so, you’ll likely not hear that the Taylor Swift effect in the immediate aftermath of the race is negative 6%. Two-sides to stories, one side to facts as I like to say.
Most are familiar with the concept that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Often missed by those in media, who lack pragmatism or understanding of those with whom they disagree with politically, is that a Taylor Swift might actually activate those who reject uneducated celebrities attempting to exact political outcomes – to vote. In the case of her specific endorsement her lack of knowledge is stunning and spectacular. Here are all of the way’s she was an obvious hypocrite:
She said Marsha Blackburn doesn’t represent her “Tennessee values” but Taylor isn’t from Tennessee – she's from Pennsylvania – only moving to Tennessee to pursue her music career in high school and has lived less than half of her life in the state
She spoke of supporting LGBT rights, but guess what, Phil Bredesen doesn’t support gay marriage among a host of other related issues – It's clear she’s never even looked into his positions & views
She’s endorsing an “old-white guy” over a younger woman (the literal opposite of the leftist narrative these days)
There’s actually more that I could illustrate but you get the point. Those in Tennessee also seem to get the point. There’s long been a repudiation of celebrity endorsements in politics by those in the center and on the right. So, when is it that celebrity political endorsements can and do matter? That times already passed. The primaries.
As was proven by a Columbia University study of the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary, the most effectual celebrity endorsement was Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. An estimated 1 million additional people, largely black, did vote for Obama over Clinton and may well have been the difference in the primary. And that’s the difference with endorsements. They’ve proven effective when one’s trying to make a decision in partisan politics. They’ve not proven effective when you’re trying to change behavior or one’s views. In the case of Taylor Swift’s endorsement, she’s so clearly clueless to those who’re informed in the state, and the values she’s expressed are well outside of the Tennessee mainstream (81% are Christians with 52% being Evangelicals), it’s no surprise that she’s already having the opposite effect despite what you hear in media reporting.