Taylor Swift Election DayIs there any artist in pop music harder to pin down politically than Taylor Swift? In a world where Lady Gaga stumps for gay marriage and Jay-Z parties with the President, Swift maintains a prim inoffensiveness, always careful to stay within the bounds of acceptability for both the country fans at Wal-Mart and the latte-sippers in Starbucks. As Swift told NPR, "I don't have enough wisdom about myself as a person yet to go out there and say…'Vote for this person.'"
In that same NPR interview, Swift revealed that she is definitely voting in this election, and that she has no plans to reveal whether she's leaning left or right. That doesn't mean that we can't speculate, though. Looking at demographics, philanthropy and the messages in her lyrics, it's time to figure out once and for all who Taylor Swift is voting for.
If, as they say, demography is destiny, then it should be fairly easy to get a handle on who Taylor Swift supports: Just look at the preferences of people similar to her. Many polls have been publishing demographic breakdowns of the presidential candidates' support in different demographic splits, so we've got a wide range of data for some of the broader categories.
Looking at the election by race, an ABC-Washington Post poll found that whites like Swift are supporting Romney over Obama by 60 percent to 37 percent. Switching the lens to gender moves things in Obama's favor-according to an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Swift's fellow ladies prefer the president by an eight-point margin, and unmarried women like Swift are even more supportive-but if you look at both factors together, white women are still more likely to go for for Romney: The same ABC-WaPo poll had the former Massachusetts governor up among them 53 to 44.
Considering voters who like Swift have only finished high school, the tide turns even further in Mitt Romney's favor. According to a recent study from GQR on the eve of the election, Obama trails Romney among non-college-educated white voters by an astounding 32-60 margin.
One other bright spot for Obama, though, is Swift's age. Young voters made up a huge part of the president's 2008 coalition, and most polls have him winning them again by a large margin (though the gap is not as large as it was four years ago). The GQR study, for instance, showed the president nearly doubling Romney's support among 18-to-29-year-olds. If you're feeling 22, you're probably feeling Obama.
Edge goes to: Obama, because of his popularity among young, umarried women.
What's the political landscape like in the places Swift was born and raised? Pennsylvania's Berks County, where Swift spent much of her early life, is a region of conservative exurbs on the outskirts of the Philadelphia metro area. Obama in 2008 was the first Democrat since LBJ to win the county, but Swift's home town of Wyomissing is still less inclined to go over to the Dems full-time: Both of its Republican congressmen won handily in the 2010 midterms.
Nashville, where Swift moved as a teenager, is nearly the exact opposite-a solid blue stronghold in a bleeding red state. Despite country music's conservative reputation, the industry's home town has gone Democratic for decades, a holdover from the days of Reconstruction: In the last three elections, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama all received at least 55% of the vote in Music City. The Nashville suburbs, though, are as GOP-friendly as the rest of the state.
Edge goes to: Too close to call. There are just too many conflicting factors here.
If you want to see what someone believes, just look where they put their money. Swift is no less generous than the average celebrity, and her numerous philanthropic donations offer a glimpse at the issues she believes are truly important.
Many of Swift's causes are the sort of apolitical efforts everyone can get behind-disaster relief, charities for children with cancer, youth service, anti-child predator initiatives-but a few speak to a mind that's engaging with the political debates of the day. Music education has long been an apolitical issue , but with education budgets being slashed in recent years, does Swift's longstanding support for the arts make her skeptical of the austerity crowd? (Of course, if Swift were a Republican, she might say that private-sector support like her own should take the place of public arts education.) And while Swift has not come out in support of gay marriage, she has still been active in the fight against homophobic discrimination and bullying, recording a PSA for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and including a gay character in her music video for "Mean."
Edge goes to: Toss-up. These efforts as a whole are a little too middle-of-the-road to give us any real insight into who Swift's voting for.