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US mid-terms: The celebs who want to influence the elections

  • 5 November 2018
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Rihanna, Michael B Jordan and Taylor SwiftImage copyright Getty Images

Elections are taking place in the US on Tuesday – with people voting for who they want to see in Congress.

It’s the part of the US government which makes the country’s laws.

Normally, presidential elections are when we’d expect to see many famous people campaigning – but this time is different.

Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Ryan Reynolds and even Taylor Swift have been encouraging their followers to vote in the mid-terms.

Donald Trump’s name is not on the ballot this time, unlike two years ago, but what happens on Tuesday could affect the rest of his presidency.

The House of Representatives and the Senate are both currently controlled by Trump’s Republican party.

But there are seats the Democrats look like they could win – potentially limiting the laws President Trump can pass before 2020.

‘I like her 25% less’

Taylor Swift shocked people last month when she came out in support of the Democrats ahead of the mid-term elections.

It’s the first time she has voiced her political views.

And while plenty of people were pleased that she’d encouraged her 112m Instagram followers to go out and vote, there were some who thought she was better sticking to music.

Donald Trump was one of them.

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Media captionDonald Trump on Taylor Swift: “Lets just say I like her music about 25% less now”

Lots of places reported a spike in voter registration following Taylor’s post, but that also may have happened because it was the final day you could register to vote.

Unlike Taylor, Rihanna has been outspoken about politics – and her followers have been receiving regular reminders about the mid-terms.

The Fenty beauty boss is supporting Andrew Gillum to become Florida’s governor, saying he’s in favour of turning the minimum wage into a living wage, among other things.

This is the first election in which Black-ish star Yara Shahidi is able to vote.

She created a campaign to “inspire the most powerful voting block in America” – young people – to vote with her.

Young people haven’t voted in big numbers in previous mid-term elections, which is perhaps why so many celebrities have chosen to campaign this time.

Some research suggests that more have registered to vote and are “looking forward” to the vote on 6 November.

But historically, turnout among young people is only around 20%.

Michael B Jordan is working to encourage voting among African-Americans, who he says “often feel like their vote doesn’t matter”.

The Black Panther star has been going door-to-door in Georgia to remind people about the election and show campaigners some love.

Over in Texas, Travis Scott has been out trying to win support for Beto O’Rourke – who will become Texas’s first Democratic senator in 24 years if he wins.

He supports free healthcare, wants cannabis legalised and has called for new gun control laws.

“All the kids, you just need to go out, hit these polls. We need to tell our peers to step out and vote… we can change the world,” Travis said at a rally in Houston.

And we couldn’t write this piece without mentioning Travis’s mentor and kind-of brother-in-law, Kanye West.

The rapper has been the biggest celebrity story in politics this year, having ramped up his support for President Trump.

But his message has been a pretty confused one in recent weeks.

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Media captionKanye: MAGA hat “made me feel like Superman”

Kanye met Trump in the Oval Office early on in October to discuss prison reform, telling Trump during the meeting that he “loved” him.

Next came a $ 73,540 donation – around £56,000 – to a woman who is running to be mayor of his home city of Chicago and is backed by Democrat Chance the Rapper.

Most recently though, after being linked to a campaign called Blexit which encouraged black voters to quit the Democratic party, he says he’s “distancing” himself from politics.

“I’ve been used,” he wrote.

It’s unclear whether he’s talking about being used by Candace Owens, who ran the Blexit campaign, Trump, or somebody else.

His Twitter feed has a slightly different feel to it now.

From Blake Lively and Ryan Reynold to Justin Bieber, Oprah and Ariana Grande, most celebrities have had a more consistent message though – go out and vote.

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