How Our Favourite Celebrities Potentially Increased the Turnout of the 2018 Mid-Term Elections

Thanks to Twitter, more millennials are voting

The American mid-terms of 2018 proved to be much more than a political marathon to secure seats in the House of Representatives, as well as the Senate. With the turnout of mid-term elections usually being significantly lower than that of presidential elections, it seemed shocking to see that the number of Americans voting on 4 November (estimated to be approximately 113 million) was well over the 83 million who turned out for the mid-terms in 2014. Although, the number was far fewer than the 138 million people who voted in the 2016 presidential election. This surge in numbers can potentially be attributed to a spike in youth voter turnout - 31 percent of people aged 18 to 29 voted in the midterms this year (a significant increase from 21 percent in 2014). This increase triggered several more firsts - the first Muslim women to serve in Congress: Rashida Tlaib from Michigan and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota; the first Native American women: Sharice Davids from Kansas and Deb Haaland from New Mexico; and the first openly gay man to be elected as Governor: Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis. Together with this came a record number of women who will serve in Congress this year - 121, up from the current 107.

A long list of celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kevin Hart, Idris Elba, Frank Ocean, Demi Lovato, Beyoncé and more took to their Twitter and Instagram accounts to tell their respective fan bases to go and vote. It may not come as a surprise that this resulted in a larger number of young people placing their ballots (although this isn’t to say that young people wouldn’t vote without prompt). Ariana Grande and Beyoncé’s social media platforms combined (taking into account Twitter and Instagram only) reach 327.5 million people globally; assuming that Americans of voting age make up only 5% of this number (although it is likely to be far more), Beyoncé and Ariana’s message could have potentially reached 16.375 million people in America. With the population of America being 325.7 million, this figure would amount to 5.02% of the population.

For the first time in what seems like a very long time, the world’s biggest stars and companies (including Twitter, Tinder, Facebook, Buzzfeed) have united to promote one common cause: voting. However, this phenomenon is far from new. In 2016, after performing a free concert in Chicago’s Grant Park, Chance the Rapper led hundreds of crowd members from the concert to an early voting location in the city on the night before Election Day, an effort dubbed the ‘Parade to the Polls’ that may have led to a 24 per cent increase in early voting rates from 2008, according to Cook County officials. Yet it can be argued that America has not seen as united and prominent an effort as that which took place this year.

In an age where social media and technology are becoming increasingly prominent in our lives, this may be what democracy needs to prevent it from decaying into a system which is anachronistic and aged. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “The ballot is stronger than the bullet”- perhaps now, we are beginning to realise it.

Carol VII