In early September, Brandwatch published its list of the most popular people on Twitter based on the number of their followers. Trump’s 3+ years of constant headline-hogging ALL-CAPS barrage of tweets might have led you to think that he is most probably the leader of the pack. Not.
Trump is not even the second or third most followed person on Twitter. As of right now, according to Brandwatch, Trump is well behind Justin Bieber who is 2nd on the list with 112.4m followers. He is also behind Katy Perry, 3rd on the list with 108.5m Twitter fans. Trump also trails the soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, 4th, and two other giants of the music business, Rihanna, 5th, and Taylor Swift, 6th. Taylor Swift, as of the early September tally, has 87.1m followers; about 1.3m more Twitter followers than Trump.
But here’s the kicker. The most followed person on Twitter, according to Brandwatch, with 122.3m followers is Barack Obama. Obama has 26.8m more Twitter fans than Trump. That must smart a lot in the Trump psyche.
In all of this, other than Obama, Taylor Swift may just be the person most positioned to optimize her success to impact the upcoming election. Swift is enormously popular. Her fans are loyal and devoted. Britain’s Telegraph has called her one of the most powerful women in the world. She has sold well over 50m albums worldwide and more than 150m singles, has won 10 Grammys, has had the number 1 album on iTunes and Billboard for much of this summer with folklore, her 8th studio album, and the number 1 single with the lyrical cardigan. More than any of that, Swift has found her political voice.
To understand this metamorphosis, take a look at Miss Americana, directed by Anna Boden on Netflix, a documentary that captures Swift’s emerging political awareness and political presence.
In the past, Swift was reluctant to express her political leanings. She made no endorsements in the last general election. That has changed. The shift began in 2018 when Swift came out for the Democratic candidate for Senate, former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen, in her home state of Tennessee’s midterm elections. Trump, who else, chimed in, telling reporters that he liked Swift’s music about 25% less now. Not a terrible criticism, all told, from America’s Misogynist-in-Chief who has catcalled other women in the public eye with far more insulting and disparaging taunts and jeers. He was 25% less a Swiftie (yes, it’s a word!) but still a fan, it would seem, in 2018. He might just like Swift a lot less now.
Swift’s candidate in Tennessee didn’t win. You can see her disappointment in Miss Americana. However, following her endorsement of Bredesen, voter registrations in Tennessee immediately shot up by 7%, not a small number.
If anything, the setback in Tennessee only served to strengthen Swift’s zeal to advance her foray into politics. She came back. She wrote a song about her experience Only the Young. She became a champion of LGBTQ causes; her 2019 video for You Need to Calm Down aka YNTCD won the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. The video is a celebration of LGBTQ figures and features a plea for fans to sign a petition in support of the Equality Act on Change.org.
Fast forward to 2020. Trump’s made his infamous appeal to repression and military might following the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, tweeting
Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.
Swift could no longer hold back. She fired back.
After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? ‘When the looting starts the shooting starts’??? We will vote you out in November. @realdonaldtrump,” — Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) May 29, 2020.
The stakes were drawn. The stakes are drawn. I’m thinking Trump might be even less of a Swiftie now.
Oh and by the by, as of this writing Taylor Swift has 140m followers on Instagram. There is no breakdown on how many of those fans live in the United States, but even it there were let’s say 80 or 90m, that could be a huge boost to Biden with Swift’s endorsement. Taylor Swift leaves Trump in the dust on Instagram. The man has only 21.9m followers there.