The right wing’s unhealthy obsession with Taylor Swift has hit critical mass in the run-up to this weekend’s Super Bowl match-up between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
We’ll set aside the strategic virtue of alienating a public figure who can single-handedly break the internet and focus instead on how Swift should seek revenge. And oh, by the way, if you don’t think she understands a thing or two about revenge, just take a listen to “Reputation” or ask Scooter Braun or David Mueller.
Taylor commands a social media army: 280 million followers on Instagram, 95.1 million on X, 23.9 million on TikTok, 80 million on Facebook and 56.3 million on YouTube. By comparison, Donald Trump has 23.7 million followers on the ‘gram, 87.4 million on X, 24.5 million on Facebook, and 2.8 million on YouTube.
The numbers speak for themselves. And there’s more. A survey conducted last year by the Morning Consult found that avid Swift fans skew suburban, Democratic and, not surprisingly, female. They’re mostly 18 to 39 years old. In the post-Dobbs political landscape, these are among the demographics President Biden most needs to turn out in order to pull off a November win.
So while the obvious response to the MAGA hysteria might be to endorse Biden — something the president’s team is hoping will happen — it’s not Swift’s best move. She endorsed Biden in 2020. Another endorsement isn’t going to move the needle.
Instead, the single most effective thing Taylor Swift could do to influence the presidential election is use her celebrity, exposure and platforms to get her army of Swifties registered to vote.
A recent poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics revealed that after record turnout in the 2020 elections, only half of 18-to-29-year-olds who voted then are planning to participate in the 2024 election. A poll conducted by NBC News showed young voters souring on Biden. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll had Biden losing the youth vote to Trump.
If this election is going to be as close as the polls and prognosticators would have us believe, activating Swift’s army of fans could be a difference maker. Without openly endorsing a candidate, she could launch her own voter registration effort and send the right-wing MAGA-sphere into meltdown mode.
Imagine if Swift announced even a handful of relatively modest acoustic concerts in the swing states (Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin) where the price of admission was proof that you were registered to vote. Voter registration booths would be set up in front of the venue. The only problem would be dealing with the crowds.
In September, Swift’s voter registration superpower went on display. In an Instagram post, she pointed her followers toward the nonpartisan, nonprofit Vote.org website, which reported a 35,000 new-registration surge. In the run-up to the 2018 midterms, a post urging her followers to register to vote was linked to 100,000 new voter registrations in the 18-to-29 demographic. If this is the kind of engagement she generated from single posts, imagine the impact of a swing-state tour in support of voter registration.
Trump’s MAGA army has made a critical mistake waging open warfare against Taylor Swift. She could very well choose to ignore them. To stay above the fray. To spend 2024 selling out stadiums worldwide via the Eras Tour. To let the conspiracy theorists continue to dissemble.
If I were Taylor Swift, I wouldn’t dignify the MAGA world with a response or reaction anytime soon. Instead, I’d let the campaigns unfold. Then, come fall, when it would matter most, when MAGA has moved on, when everyone has forgotten the insanity of the past few weeks, in a few strategic states that will decide the next election, maybe, just maybe, Swift should extract her revenge.
Kurt Bardella is a contributing writer to Opinion. @KurtBardella