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Do 1 in 5 Americans really believe Taylor Swift is in cahoots with Biden?

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Where are you getting this information?” Biden responded. “It’s classified.”

The two were joking about the latest conspiracy theory that’s been bubbling under the surface for the last few weeks — that Swift, her tremendous popularity, and her saturated media coverage in the lead-up to the Super Bowl (she’s dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce) is somehow a government psyop to influence American minds into supporting Biden’s reelection effort.

The theory has bounced around the conservative media echo chamber and even garnered some mainstream coverage. After being promoted on Fox News by host Jesse Watters, it spawned a field day of coverage on network news, daytime talk shows, and national radio.

It’s unclear what the origin of this conspiracy theory is, but one poll helped boost its reach. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Monmouth University asked whether respondents had heard about the idea of Swift being involved in a “covert government effort to help Joe Biden win the presidential election” and “Do you think that a covert government effort for Taylor Swift to help Joe Biden win the presidential election actually exists, or not?”

Thus did a viral conspiracy-theory joke — it’s still unclear how serious it ever was — go fully mainstream, all the way to a late-night TV show and the president himself.

The treacherous slope of a Taylor Swift poll
Here’s the thing about polls: Many times, they don’t really tell us what we think they’re telling us. Sometimes we have to peer deeper to find out what they’re actually saying.

The actual Swift conspiracy theory isn’t one unified concept. As my colleagues at Vox have explained before, it’s actually a whole bunch of ideas about Swift and her popularity being somehow artificially engineered and a sign of some covert effort to influence minds.

The idea of this being political was made more popular in elite right-wing spaces — pushed by failed GOP presidential candidates on social media and Jesse Watters in primetime, all to suggest that Swift is part of a psychological operation being used by the Pentagon or the federal government to convince her followers to support Democrats like Biden.

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