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Taylor Swift would win any popularity contest against MAGA

Analysis by Harry Enten, CNN

(CNN) — It’s perhaps one of the strangest conspiracy theories of all time.

Some fans of former President Donald Trump believe pop star Taylor Swift has been employed in a kind of covert government operation to prop up Joe Biden’s reelection bid and have therefore tried to stigmatize her.

Polling shows this is a bad idea. Swift is one of the most popular figures in America, and these Republicans are out of step with others in thinking she’s being propped up by the government.

A Monmouth University poll released last week lays out the facts well. Swift comes in with a 39% favorable rating, 13% unfavorable rating and 43% saying they have no opinion of her. Among those with an opinion, 75% had a positive one.

Even among Republicans, she scores a 25% favorable to 18% unfavorable rating. That is, more Republicans like her than dislike her. Of those who had an opinion, 58% viewed her favorably.

This lines up well with a Marist College poll from December that showed similar figures once you exclude those with no opinion.

Trump is far more unpopular than Swift. He has a 45% favorable to a 55% unfavorable rating among those with an opinion, according to an aggregate of recent polling. That puts his favorable rating about 25 to 30 points lower than Swift’s, depending on the poll.

This could be why Trump hasn’t humored his base over the concerns about Swift.

Indeed, it would be hard to find anyone more popular than Swift these days. Her favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is far higher from what I can tell than any current politician nationally.

In some ways, one could consider Swift to be a modern-day Oprah Winfrey. It’s a comparison CNN host Michael Smerconish has made. Swift, like Winfrey, seems to make news no matter where she goes.

The comparison is apt when you think back to Winfrey’s endorsement of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Winfrey was regularly hitting Swift levels of popularity back then, when accounting for those without an opinion.

One study suggested that she got Obama about 1 million votes during his primary battle with Hillary Clinton. That may have been enough to help him win the 2008 Democratic nomination in what was a close contest.

The fact that Winfrey proved to be a vote-getter for Obama may be why many Democrats are hoping Swift can do the same for Biden. Swift, who has endorsed Democrats in the past, has not backed Biden’s 2024 bid as of now.

She has, however, been linked to over 30,000 new voter registrations in 2018, when she asked people to sign up to vote. (Most Americans – 68% – approve of Swift encouraging people to vote in the 2024 election, the Monmouth poll found.)

Swift’s previous backing of liberal causes may also be part of the reason why Trump supporters are going after her. (Her boyfriend, NFL tight end Travis Kelce, has done ads for Covid-19 vaccinations, something a lot of Republicans are against as well.)

But it takes a gigantic logical leap to go from Swift supporting Democrats to the government covertly propping her up. It’s not a leap most Americans will make.

About 1 in 6 Americans (18%) say they think such a conspiracy theory is true. On the one hand, that seems like a high number. On the other hand, the vast majority of Americans (73%) think it’s false.

In fact, you can find 18% of Americans who believe nearly anything, especially if there is a partisan cue attached to it. Between 17% and 27% of Americans said Obama was probably or definitely born outside the United States, according to CNN polling. He was, of course, born in Hawaii.

And like with the Obama “birther” conspiracy theory, those who believe the one about Swift come mostly from the right side of the aisle. Nearly a third of Republicans (32%) said there was a secret government plot to elevate Swift. Just 6% of Democrats thought the same, which is less than the percentage of Americans who think that the Earth is flat or that the government faked the moon landing.

The bottom line is that most Americans who have an opinion on Swift like her. There’s not been any overall backlash against her or those associated with her in any measurable way.

Swift has of late only helped contribute to the popularity of others. Her boyfriend’s podcast flew up the charts when they became a couple. The NFL saw record ratings for the recent Super Bowl, helped immensely by major growth among 18- to 24-year-old women (a core Swift demographic).

Any Republican going against Swift would be making a major mistake.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN-Opinion

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