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As we head into the 2018 midterm elections in the US, you've probably already seen quite a lot of news about it. That's because polls indicate an incoming "blue wave" that could tip the balance of Congress in favor of the Democratic party, at a time when it's been vocal about its displeasure with President Trump. If Democrats take over, Trump may actually be facing impeachment, or at least further investigation.

However, the Democratic party skews younger, and young people have a tendency to not vote. That is, unless influential public figures speak up and motivate them to register and head to the voting booth.

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Over the weekend, the popular musician Taylor Swift unexpectedly stepped into the fray on Instagram (Android, iOS). And she not only advocated registration but also specifically promoted two Democratic candidates and criticized one Republican candidate, to the surprise of many in her fanbase.

It reads in part, "As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives."

Citizens who have not registered or who want to confirm their registration can go to Vote.org to complete the process within minutes.

Bredesen was the governor of Tennessee from 2003 to 2011, and the mayor of Nashville before that. Jim Cooper, born and raised in the state, has served in the House of Representatives since 2003, and he had an earlier stretch in the same position from 1983 to 1995. Both have served as Democrats throughout their careers.

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Swift has encouraged her fans to get registered and vote before, but this reportedly marks the first time that she has publicly favored a specific political party. She says, "In the past I've been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country."

Her Instagram post has received over 2 million likes as of Wednesday afternoon, and Buzzfeed News reported days ago that it caused a big surge in voter registrations. Tennessee Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini told Buzzfeed, "To have someone of her stature and with such a large microphone to step up and actually reinforce what we already know here is definitely going to boost the morale of people who have been told Tennesseans are divisive. Having her come out and say this so publicly will make people sit up and say, 'Ya know what, I'm not alone here.'"

Taylor Swift's Instagram account has 112 million followers at last count, putting her in the top 10 among Selena Gomez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Takeaways

  • Popular musician Taylor Swift broke from her previous convention on Sunday and publicly advocated for two Democratic candidates for the 2018 midterm election. Vote.org credited her strongly worded statements with a surge in voter registrations.
  • Swift also criticized incumbent Marsha Blackburn's legislative history, specifically in regard to equal pay for women and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Swift's Instagram account is one of the most popular in the world, with 112 million followers.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.