Taylor Swift v Donald Trump

Since well before he was elected as President of the United States of America, Donald Trump has picked fights with all sort of people. He has long been an antagonistic type, which has seemingly delighted the MAGA crew that will vote for him seemingly in spite of what he does that they should really be against. In recent times, though, the former President appears to have taken on his toughest challenge yet by setting his stall out against Taylor Swift. Whilst the one-time Apprentice host has plenty of loyal followers, it isn’t as if the music star doesn’t have plenty of acolytes of her own in the form of ‘Swifties’.

The reality is that Taylor Swift is unlikely to care about Donald Trump all that much, but Trump certainly appears to care very much about her. There are plenty of other Republicans and other right-wing types who have got their back up because of Swift’s popularity, with some even deciding to avoid the Super Bowl when it became clear that Swift would be there supporting her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, who was playing as the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. Trump has taken on many different opponents in recent years, up to and including democracy as a concept, but it is Swift that might prove to be his trickiest opponent to date.

Trump Claims He’s More Popular

Donald Trump
Gage Skidmore, Wikipedia

Donald Trump won the Presidential election in 2016, becoming President in the January of the following year after being sworn in. Although he lost the popular vote, the nature of elections in the United States of America are such that he was still elected because he won the Electoral College. When he lost the 2020 election, Trump refused to concede, claiming that there had been widespread voter fraud and attempting to overturn the result of the election. This led to the attack on the US Capitol on the sixth of January 2021, with scholars and historians ranking him as one of the worst Presidents that the country had ever had.

The man himself believes that he’s hugely popular, however. In an echo of the one-time claim of John Lennon that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, Donald Trump claimed that he is more popular than Taylor Swift. In 2016, in the wake of his election as President, Trump was named the Person of the Year by TIME. Seven years later and the same thing happened to Swift, not least of all because of the manner in which her ERAS Tour sold out in a matter of hours. That might be part of the reason why Trump has claimed he’s more popular than her, because he can’t stand the idea that might not be.

The problem he’s got is that the facts certainly don’t seem to be on his side. On Twitter, Swift has around 95 million followers compared to the 87.4 million that Trump boasts. It’s a similar story on Facebook, with Swift having 80 million fans in comparison to Trump’s 34 million. On Instagram it isn’t even a competition, with the 23.7 million who follow Trump being dwarfed by the 279 million that follow Swift. When Taylor Swift toured with ERAS, the average attendance at shows was 72,459, whilst Trump’s claim that ‘thousands get turned away’ from his rallies has no basis in fact, according to the likes of DCReport.

Of course, the former President has never been all that bothered about facts. Anytime he’s presented with some information that he doesn’t like he’s grown accustomed to simply referring to it as ‘fake news’, regardless of much evidence there is to the contrary. In 2022, for example, the former President held a rally in which the venue had a capacity of 8,700. Only 5,406 tickets were sold, leading to the Trump campaign giving away tickets. This increased the number of people attending to 6,200, but left 30% of the venue empty. This is certainly suggestive of someone who isn’t as popular as he likes to think he is.

Swift’s Political Leanings

Though Taylor Swift has remained largely on the fence about her political allegiance over the years, probably in an attempt to ensure that she doesn’t alienate anyone, she did eventually allow her views to become clear in 2018. That was when she decided to endorse a pair of Democrats in Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper for the Senate and the House, respectively, during the mid-term elections. Trump was President at the time and claimed that he liked her music ‘25% less’ because of it. She then chose to endorse Joe Biden for President in 2020, with Redfield & Wilton Strategies doing a poll that said that people would be 18% more likely to vote for a candidate that Swift had endorsed.

Taylor Swift might be many things, but she is not political apathetic. In 2023, she urged people the register to vote in one of her Instagram posts, with the result being that there were 35,000 new voter registrations off the back of it. She didn’t specifically encourage people to vote one way or the other when she sent her post, instead directing her followers to Vote.org, which is a non-partisan group that is non-profit and aim to try to ‘increase voting behaviour and reach historically under-served voters or colour and under-represented young voters’. It resulted in ‘record-breaking traffic‘ heading to the site.

Swift’s Endorsement Matters

Taylor Swift in 2010
David Shankbone, Wikipedia

Despite what Donald Trump might want people to believe, Taylor Swift’s endorsement in the Presidential race matters. Although she hasn’t given it to either candidate at the time of writing, it seems clear that the former President fears that she is once again going to offer it to Joe Biden this time around. As a result, Conservatives have begun to leak conspiracy theories against Swift, ramping them up after the New York Times released a piece suggesting that the Biden campaign were confident that she was going to give it to the Democrats for the 2024 election. Former Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, for example, wrote on Twitter:

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.

Trump took to his own social media account on Truth Social in the wake of the Super Bowl and said:

Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will. There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money.

It appeared as though Trump was taking credit for Taylor Swift’s incredible success because he signed the Music Modernisation Act into law in 2018, with the Act working to better support musicians in the age of streaming. Plenty were quick to downplay the former President’s actual role in getting the Act into law, given that it had been years in the making and passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. What it did show, though, was the fact that Trump is concerned that Swift might endorse Biden and make a big difference in the outcome of the forthcoming Presidential election not in his favour.

Ahead of the 2020 election, Swift said, “The change we need most is to elect a president who recognises that people of colour deserve to feel safe and represented, that women deserve the right to choose what happens to their bodies, and that the LGBTQIA+ community deserves to be acknowledged and included.” That followed an interview in Elle in 2019 in which she said, “Invoking racism and provoking fear through thinly veiled messaging is not what I want from our leaders, and I realised that it actually is my responsibility to use my influence against that disgusting rhetoric.”

It is extremely unlikely that she will have changed her mind on that front in the intervening years, which means that the chance of her endorsing Trump is slim to nought. Little wonder, then, that Trump, who has been legally defined as a sexual predator and fraud, is concerned about who she is going to end up endorsing. Whilst he almost certainly accepts that it won’t be him, he appears to be waging war against Taylor Swift in the hope that it will at least discourage her from endorsing his likely opponent in the current President, Joe Biden. Trump is notoriously weak with women and young people, so Swift endorsing Biden would cause him major issues.

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