I wonder if this poor guy, in his diminished state, grasps how profoundly it would change his public image if he became known as the man who Nader-ed America into four more years of Trump. It wouldn’t matter if people boycotted his albums; he’ll live a life of stupendous luxury even if he never sells another record. And he *would* still sell records. Boycotts are like diets: They last for awhile but nearly everyone reverts to the status quo ante in time.
Still, the media and most of liberal America would never look at him the same way. Nader at least had a lifetime of leftist activism before 2000 to guarantee a modicum of goodwill afterward. I think Dems would get nasty with West for years to come if his candidacy ended up being decisive in swing states.
Which would be fine in normal circumstances. Politics ain’t beanbag; if you want to run, you price in certain risks to your candidacy. The catch with West is that it’s uncertain how clearly he’s thinking about anything right now.
Having said that, after reading this brief interview with Forbes, it’s still hazy as to whether he’s trying to play spoiler for Trump on his own initiative or if the White House is using him as a true stalking horse, clandestinely directing his attempt to get on the ballot in various states by enlisting local Republican operatives to help him. I’m still not sold on that. This may just be Kanye being Kanye, embracing the delusion of grandeur that God wants him to be president, or wants him to help Trump be president, with TrumpWorld looking on amusedly and thinking, “Hey, he could help.”
Amid various reports that Republican and Trump-affiliated political operatives are trying to get Kanye West onto various state ballots for November’s presidential election, the billionaire rap superstar indicated, in an interview by text today, that he was in fact running to siphon votes from the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.
Asked about that directly, West said that rather than running for president, he was “walking,” quickly adding that he was “walking . . . to win.”
When it was pointed out that he actually can’t win in 2020—that he won’t be on enough ballots to yield 270 electoral votes, and that a write-in campaign isn’t feasible—and thus was serving as a spoiler, West replied: “I’m not going to argue with you. Jesus is King.”…
West says that he’s “designing a school within the next month” and that “I’m meeting with Betsy DeVos about the post-Covid curriculum.”
Author Randall Lane claims that earlier this summer West was signing off on text chats with him with “Trump 2020” and a raised fist emoji, and that when Lane prodded him by suggesting that the haphazard ballot-access effort doesn’t feel like a Kanye production, West replied that it’s a “God production.” Hmmm.
So he’s working for Trump, right? Well, hold on. Per the Daily Beast, some of Trump’s own advisors see potential for West to hurt the president, not Biden, in swing states:
“[It] could siphon from Trump Blacks who don’t like Biden,” John McLaughlin, a top pollster for President Trump, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday night. “Blacks who don’t like Biden in a two-way race would vote for the president. Now they might consider Kanye.”…
Seven sources in the president’s political orbit—senior administration officials, GOP operatives, campaign advisers, and individuals close to Trump—had some mixed reactions when privately discussing Kanye 2020 this week.
There were some who loudly applauded the budding GOP-connected dirty trick to pump up West’s bizarre run, thinking it is at least worth a try, if it somehow hobbles Team Biden in critical states. Several said West should be seeking professional help and support from loved ones, instead of embarking on a long-shot bid for the White House. Several people in the upper ranks of the president’s political operation said they were surprised by recent news regarding West’s campaign, and insisted that they weren’t aware of involvement from top Republicans or the president’s inner sanctum.
West’s most noteworthy policy position is his pro-life stance, which he’s reiterated on Twitter lately:
Over 22,500,000 black babies have been aborted over the past 50 years.
— ye (@kanyewest) July 31, 2020
Thank you God and mom and dad for letting me live pic.twitter.com/JqZgTp8chY
— ye (@kanyewest) August 7, 2020
Does that make sense for a Democratic spoiler? As McLaughlin suggests, anyone who opposes abortion strongly enough that they can’t bring themselves to support Biden might logically shift to Trump. Now, with West in the race, they have a reason not to do that. On the other hand, there may be a segment of pro-lifers who dislike Biden’s position on abortion but dislike Trump even more, and were prepared to grudgingly vote Democratic — until Kanye came along and gave them an alternative. It’s worth noting that young adults, the group to which West might logically have the strongest appeal, are also the age group most supportive of abortion rights. According to a Pew poll taken last year, adults aged 18-29 split 70/29 on keeping abortion legal in most cases. The same poll found black Protestants more likely than any other major Christian religious group to support keeping abortion legal in most cases, splitting 64/35.
One way to look at that is to say, “See? Kanye’s going to be a bust with both groups.” Another way is to point to the ~30 percent or so of pro-lifers in both groups and reason that there’s a lot of votes there potentially that might otherwise reluctantly go to Biden for other policy reasons and which may now shift to West.
I don’t think it’s possible to game out whether West helps one candidate more than the other without much more granular polling. But we can, at least, draw a strong inference about what the president thinks based on his tweets this morning. Here he is insisting that “the black vote” is very much in play this year thanks to Biden’s latest embarrassing gaffe, which isn’t strictly true — Biden will get over 80 percent for sure — but may be true enough in that enough black voters could defect from Democrats in sufficient numbers to cost Biden the election. Exit quotation from reporter Matt Fuller: “Biden’s gaffe was suggesting African Americans think monolithically, a mistake that will surely win Donald Trump ‘The Black Vote.'”