• Thomas Godfrey

President West? How voting for Kanye is almost a vote for Donald Trump.

2020 has so far been the year of bushfires, viruses and celebrity deaths. But, in the eyes of America, there is now only one man who can lead the free world out of the dark and into the light of “the new normal”. His name is Kanye West.

The rapper and owner of the “Yeezy” trainer brand announced yesterday that he would run for President in just five months time, despite the fact he has already missed the deadline to register as a candidate in seven states and would likely struggle to even make it onto the ballot in in several others with deadlines fast approaching.

It’s unimaginable that West could actually amass the 270 electoral college votes needed to become president-elect, but as the only African-American candidate, it’s easy to believe that West may take a proportion of the black vote in states in which his name makes the cut. Despite Kanye’s high ambitions, if he is to command a high percentage of the black vote in November, be will undoubtedly be helping President Donald Trump defeat Democrat Candidate Joe Biden.

Kanye’s association with President Trump goes as far back as 2016, where the rapper met with the property tycoon and former host of “The Apprentice” at Trump Tower just one month after the Republican’s shocking election win. In October 2018, West met with Trump at the White House, using the time to convey his ideas to the president using his iPhone, including the “Airplane One”, a hydrogen-powered alternative to Trump’s Air Force One. “Ye” also embarked on a profanity-laden rant in which he declared he felt like “superman” whilst wearing the President’s trademark red “Make America Great Again” cap:

“You know, they tried to scare me to not wear this hat – my own friends. But this hat, it gives me – it gives me power, in a way. You know, my dad and my mom separated, so I didn’t have a lot of male energy in my home. And also, I’m married to a family that – (laughs) – you know, not a lot of male energy going on. It’s beautiful, though. But there’s times where, you know, there’s something about – you know, I love Hillary. I love everyone, right? But the campaign “I’m with her” just didn’t make me feel, as a guy, that didn’t get to see my dad all the time – like a guy that could play catch with his son. It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman. That was my – that’s my favorite superhero. And you made a Superman cape.”

If West does push through on his promise and can amass the voter base to register on the ballot come November, any check-boxed splash will inevitably help the incumbent President. As West himself alluded to, African-Americans, who West would presumably target as likely voters, are more inclined to vote Democrat and for Joe Biden. In 2016, 88% of black Americans voted for Hillary Clinton.

If West could even register 10% of the black vote (assuming a replication of the 59.6% black turnout rate in 2016), he would carry roughly 2.1 million votes, enough to potentially sway swing-states in which there is a high black population, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia. The Trump campaign was helped by a relatively low black voter turnout in 2016, with the white turnout 7% higher nationwide. In Florida alone, which with 29 college votes is considered a crucial bell weather, Trump won by just 113,000 votes, but 1.04 million black people, 90% of which would have likely voted for Clinton, did not vote. In fact, in all six of the key states, New York Times research found that with 100% black turnout - assuring 9/10 voted Clinton - there wouldn’t have been a President Trump.

So, where does Kanye fit in now? The power of the black vote in 2020 is not to be understated, especially if your name is Joe Biden. Struggling in the primaries, Biden’s ‘Super Tuesday’ surge was mainly thanks to a gargantuan pickup in his popularity with non-white voters. In the words of Fox News’ Juan Williams: “Joe Biden would be retried if it was not for the black vote”

“12% of the population will pick our next President”

A quarter of black voters identify as conservatives, a number that will feel warming to ‘Camp Kanye’. West’s prior alignment with Trump and recent efforts around evangelicalism - including his latest discography “Jesus is King” - is likely to boost his approval rating among this group. Whilst it is highly unlikely West will command a quarter of black voters, any vote he does take will likely come from a voter who, statistically, would otherwise vote for Biden. This means vote for West, especially in the ‘special six’, would reduce Biden’s chances of flipping the requisite states to win the presidency. Having spent millions, made countless promises and even with multiple black Vice President candidates in the offing, it may only take one black man to turn Biden’s work into an inconsequential heap. But when you’re of the iconoclastic standard of Kanye West, it’s just natural.

As if 2020 could not get any more strange, the man behind “American boy” could soon become American President. And Kim Kardashian would be First Lady.

Or maybe, he just wants some more album sales...

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© 2020 Thomas Godfrey

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