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Pop star politics: Taylor Swift, person of the year, transcends partisan divides, UConn prof says

aylor Swift performs onstage during " Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Estadio Más Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti on November 9, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal.
Marcelo Endelli/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Mana
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Getty Images South America
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 09: EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO BOOK COVERS. Taylor Swift performs onstage during " Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Estadio Más Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti on November 09, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

Taylor Swift is Time magazine’s person of the year. The announcement came just a week after Spotify announced she was the most-played artist on the streaming platform.

Swift was pickedfrom a group of nine finaliststhat included Barbie, King Charles III, and OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman, among others.

Swift, 33, has a lot of sway these days – not just musically, but socially and even politically, said Jeffrey Dudas, a professor of political science at the University of Connecticut. Swift transcends partisan politics, Dudas told Connecticut Public’s “The Wheelhouse.”

“There isn’t a real big partisan gap in her approval rating between Republicans and Democrats,” said Dudas, who examines how pop culture and politics intersect. “There’s a little bit of one, but not what you might expect given the sort of efforts by conservative media recently to paint her most recently as a kind of progressive.”

An NBC News national poll recently had Taylor Swift’s favorability rating at 40% – higher than the presumptive major party candidates in the 2024 U.S. presidential election.

In September, the nonpartisan nonprofit Vote.org reported a surgeof 35,000 registrations after Swift encouraged fans to register to vote.

Swift’s year included the wildly popular Eras Tour and concert movie, the release of her reimagined “1989” album, and her closely watched relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. She's even the subject of college courses.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was Time's 2022 person of the year.

Listen to the full “Wheelhouse” episode: “Will MAGA politics or Taylor Swift make a difference in 2024?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
Meg Dalton is the deputy director of storytelling for Connecticut Public. She previously worked for The Takeaway from WNYC, in collaboration with GBH and PRX, and Mobituaries with Mo Rocca. She's also reported and edited for the Columbia Journalism Review, PBS NewsHour, Slate, MediaShift, Hearst Connecticut newspapers, and more. Her audio work has appeared on ‎WNYC, WSHU, Marketplace, WBAI, and NPR. She earned her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School in 2017, where she specialized in audio storytelling and narrative writing, and has taught audio storytelling at Columbia Journalism School, UnionDocs, and public libraries.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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