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Bad Blood

Could Taylor Swift Swing the 2024 Election at the Super Bowl?

What polls say about the singer’s potential electoral impact—and why Republicans are obsessed with her.

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the 2024 AFC Championship.
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce

Taylor Swift is the most popular entertainer in America. On Sunday, the singer won her fourth Album of the Year Grammy—a record. This upcoming Sunday, she will be cheering as her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, plays in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers. Two months from now, she will release what will undoubtedly be one of the year’s most popular albums: The Tortured Poets Department. In spite of all of this, Republicans have, in recent weeks, made her the target of smears, conspiracy theories, and deranged musings—all because they worry that the uber-famous Swift (who endorsed Joe Biden in 2020) and Kelce (who shills for Pfizer vaccines) could form an alliance so powerful that it could not only swing the 2024 election to Joe Biden but effeminize American men in the process.

To recap: On January 29, the Chiefs defeated the Baltimore Ravens, securing a spot in the Super Bowl. Right-wing influencer Jack Posobiec and failed Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy kicked off the spiraling, a day later, by imagining a vast conspiracy that would see the “artificially culturally propped up couple”—in Ramaswamy’s words—teaming up to use their immense influence to elect Biden, all in the service of vague national security interests.

Swift’s own arc from country singer (and George Soros criticizer, albeit on nonpolitical grounds) to liberal pop icon is undoubtedly playing a role in the mania surrounding her relationship with Kelce. Conservatives have been feeling a little betrayed by the once studiously apolitical singer who they previously lauded as a potential Aryan goddess. Over the last several years, Swift has become a more outspoken advocate for women’s rights, registered tens of thousands of voters—many of them young women—and even endorsed Joe Biden in 2020.

Far-right accounts on X have been in meltdown mode for over a week now, convinced that the Chiefs’ win was part of a Swift-based “op” and claiming that the Super Bowl is “rigged,” to set the stage for an eventual presidential endorsement. Fox News immediately erupted into a multiday news cycle in which broadcasters pleaded with Swift not to endorse Biden. “It would be the dumbest thing a mega superstar could ever do,” said Fox host Brian Kilmeade on Varney & Co. “Why would you tell half the country you don’t agree with them in this highly polarized time? You stay out of it!” Behind closed doors, former President Donald Trump weighed the consequences of a Swift-Biden team-up, reportedly surmising that he has little to fear because he is “more popular” than Swift. Team Biden, meanwhile, jumped into action, goading Trump’s allies by leaking that they have been privately strategizing about how to win the endorsement of the 2023 Time person of the year and that the 81-year-old president was even considering attending one of her Eras tour concerts. “Taylor Swift stands tall and unique,” California Governor Gavin Newsom told The New York Times. “What she was able to accomplish just in getting young people activated to consider that they have a voice and that they should have a choice in the next election, I think, is profoundly powerful.”

To be clear, the only evidence they have to suggest Swift may endorse Biden is that she endorsed him in 2020. Swift has stayed unnervingly silent as she has once again ascended through the pop culture zeitgeist during her Eras tour, as the world around her descended into political disorder, war, and misinformation.

While some on the right revved up their arguments against Swift, others attempted to pump the brakes. Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene declined to take up the sword of her far-right buddies, telling The Hill last week that she “could really care less” about the couple. Republican Senator Roger Marshall from Kansas told Politico last Wednesday that people should embrace Kelce and Swift as “an American love story.” Senator Tommy Tuberville acted indifferent about the uproar. “Football is football. Hopefully we stay closer to that than we can all this social media,” he said, adding, “I don’t think it’s gonna make any difference in this election.” Ben Shapiro begged his fellow right-wing influencers to back off, calling conspiracies about the couple not “super worthwhile” and pleading, “Guys, not everything you don’t like is a conspiracy.”

One possible explanation is that some on the right may be trying to protect their own reputation by not appearing at odds with the famous blonde bangs-haver.

As a rare contemporary monocultural figure and the cause of what Kyle Chayka called the “Swiftularity,” Swift is an exception to the cultural balkanization that has accompanied the rise of social media. In a chaotic digital space fragmented by algorithms, where the media we consume is niche and predetermined, cultural objects elevated in mass media serve as beacons. To put that in political perspective, a March 2023 Morning Consult poll found that 53 percent of Americans identified themselves as Taylor Swift fans, while the latest Quinnipiac poll showed that neither Biden nor Trump would receive as much support in a 2020 rematch. At this point, the digital space is more than sufficiently saturated by the power radiating from Swift.

Swift transcends politics, in other words—she has an undiluted influence that few cultural figures have in 2024. At the same time, that very flavor of influence, per the same March 2023 poll, which is uniquely strong among young people—millennials make up nearly half of her fan base—makes her particularly potent as a political player, especially during a year in which young voters are skeptical of Biden. More than three-quarters of her fans identify as Democrats or independents, suggesting the potential to turn out hundreds of thousands of voters. Plus, Swift’s fans are highly engaged. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing last year to investigate Live Nation Entertainment’s near monopoly over the ticketing industry, thanks in large part to an outcry from Swifties. No one speaks to more young women than Taylor Swift—which is exactly why the right is freaking out.

Swift’s hyperpopularity is interwoven with the current phase of what’s left of American monoculture: the year of the girl. When the right trashes the NFL and the Super Bowl, it’s because they view these objects as having been tarnished by Swift, girlhood’s coat of arms. Worried about their own lack of influence—and declining cultural power—conservatives have invented a vast conspiracy that suggests that the real reason for their irrelevance is the Pentagon. Swift’s fans are being duped, in this version—they are victims of a sinister effort to feminize every facet of American culture.

“Pop music? It’s for girls. Social media? It’s for girls. Democrats? Girls. Taylor Swift? Girls and also a government psyop,” writes Ryan Broderick in a recent newsletter describing the far right’s dismissal of “feminine” cultural objects. “But this line of thinking has no limit. It poisons everything. If Swift manages to make it to the Super Bowl, well, that has to become feminine too. And at a certain point, the whole thing falls apart because, honestly, you just sound like an insane loser,” he added.

All of this has led to the absurd situation we find ourselves in now, in which America’s most popular singer and her boyfriend, arguably the greatest tight end in the history of the NFL, are derided as agents in a sinister sleeper cell intent on destroying the country from within. While the impulse to spew vitriol about popular culture is nothing new for conservatives, the calls to remove Kelce’s man card are meaningless and nonsensical, even by the right’s own noxious standards. While it’s true that some Republicans have attempted to preserve their own dignity, and—in a strange twist —defend popular culture, many on the right just can’t help themselves: Anxious about Swift’s influence over the election, they are attempting to cut her down now—even though that decision is already backfiring.

But does any of the fanfare around Swift even matter for 2024?

According to a recent Newsweek poll, 18 percent of voters said they would be more likely to back a Swift-endorsed candidate, while 17 percent said they would be less inclined. The March 2023 Morning Consult poll shows that Swift’s main demographic is white, female, suburban, millennial Democrats—a group more likely to vote for Biden. The singer has earned a little less favor among Gen Z voters and independents, two key groups Biden is struggling to win over.

It’s not obvious from that poll that a Swift endorsement would hold much political weight at all. At this point, Biden is still relatively strong with women, so while an endorsement from Swift might move the needle for a candidate who is less popular with women—like, for instance, Donald Trump—Biden wouldn’t necessarily see a bump if the singer gives him the nod. It’s not clear from any polling, for that matter, how many voters there are who would only vote for Biden if Swift endorsed him. That number is undoubtedly lower than the number of Swift’s Instagram followers (280 million), but it may also be lower than the number of voters she registered last September (35,000).

It’s possible that the massive success of the Eras tour, her romance with Kelce, and even the vitriol of far-right crybabies have converted some new fans over the past year. Swift remains a political lightning rod who can summon her power at any time—maybe she has more of it than anyone really knows. But she’d need to make it back from Tokyo, where she’s performing on Saturday night, to summon it at the Super Bowl, and we’re still doing the math on that one.