After she blessed the nation with the Instagram equivalent of the “I Have a Dream” speech, news outlets everywhere are attributing Tennessee’s sudden spike in voter registration to pop icon Taylor Swift. Apparently, the banjo-strumming pop diva’s newly-discovered wokeness has inspired people who believe that God gave chicken all the seasoning it will ever need to Rockabilly the Vote.
CNN, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed and our own Gizmodo have all credited Swift for Tennessee’s sudden surge in voter registration after the musician and singer brazenly took to Twitter to announce that she recently discovered that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn), who has served in Congress since Swift was 13, was kinda racist and homophobic.
While this might seem like a heartwarming story of how one white woman found her inner white woman, asked it to sit down for a minute and saved “the blacks” and “the gays” in her state from suffering the same bigotry and homophobia Swift had intentionally been silent about for years, there is one fact that we should all recognize:
It is all bullshit.
First of all, at or near the bottom of many of the stories, you might discover the fact that voter registration is up everywhere, not just in Tennessee. Some of the reports may have even mentioned that the voter registration deadline for Tennessee is Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Oh, wait. That’s today! Could that possibly have anything to do with it?
Well, a Pew Research study of registration data from four states found that most voters register in the final days, noting: “As voter registration deadlines and Election Day approach, interest in the election intensifies as does the activity of third-party registration groups.”
Even Vote.org, whose data is referenced in the stories, says: “We always have a spike in October. People wait until the deadline to register.”
Aside from legitimate studies, a simple Google search will reveal that county registrars and election officials routinely see spikes in voter registration right before primaries, registration deadlines and election days. Also, third-party groups and organizations who register people to vote often turn in their voter registrations at one time—just before the deadline.
Of course, it would be easy to compare Tennessee’s surge in online voter registrations to the last presidential election or even the last midterm. I think that would be best. Maybe we should do that.
Gosh darn it, it turns out the upcoming midterm elections will be the first national election in Tennessee history for which voters can register online. Not only that, Vote.org, which reported the surge, just rolled out its new online voter tool in September. And politically-charged events, such as the Kavanaugh hearings, usually cause a rise in voter registration (the Parkland shooting caused a huge spike in youth voter registration in Pennsylvania). Maybe those factors explain why registration spiked?
Reporting that a surge in voter registration was caused by Taylor Swift also ignores the fact that this midterm is one of the most talked about subjects on social media and television. That little-known tool called Google might have also helped those interested to discover that a similar surge in voter registration took place during this very time two years ago ahead of the registration deadline ...
Nah, you’re right; it’s probably just Taylor’s Instagram.
None of this is to say Taylor Swift hasn’t inspired anyone to vote. However, one would have to suspend all logic and critical thinking to believe that there was a legion of voters in Tennessee who:
Had no idea an election was coming up, didn’t know the Republican politicians who represented them were racist and homophobic until Taylor said something, all followed Taylor Swift on Instagram, and all agreed with her politics.
And that none of them were planning to vote until they read Taylor’s post. If you believe that, I should inform you of other events not caused by Taylor:
- Taylor Swift did not free the slaves.
- Taylor Swift did not invent strawberries.
- The government is not covering up the fact that Taylor Swift was the first woman to walk on the Moon.
- Taylor Swift did not invent a time machine, go back in time and kill Hitler, thus preventing the Holocaust.
- Stevie Wonder did not lose his sight because he was blinded by Taylor Swift’s beauty.
- And finally, the Knowles did not get a divorce because Tina objected when Matthew wanted to create a country western version of Destiny’s Child with Beyonce, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift singing lead.
However, it might be true that Taylor Swift is actually a witch who stole the soul of Kanye West in a brutal act of revenge.