Kanye announced his intentions yesterday via a post that waxed lyrical about realizing “the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision, and building our future.” However, it doesn’t look as if he’s actually made any real steps towards making this happen.
The rapper and designer will have to move fast if he’s actually serious. With four months left to go before the November 3 election, Kanye still needs to register with the Federal Election Commission, present a campaign, and collect signatures so he can get on the ballot sheets alongside Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
He has already missed the deadline to file as an independent candidate in a number of key states including North Carolina (March 3), Texas (May 11), New York (May 26), Maine (June 1), New Mexico (June 25), and Indiana (June 30). It’s not too late for him to appear on the ballot in other states, but many (like Florida, South Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, etc) have deadlines approaching this month.
Getting on ballots as an independent candidate — which, the Guardian explains, is the most likely option unless he can secure the backing of a small political party — requires hiring staff or recruiting volunteers to gather thousands of signatures across the states before registration periods close; a task made much harder by the ongoing pandemic.
Many speculate that Kanye is running in an attempt to hurt Biden — a strategic, Trump-aligned move that could shift black voters away from the presumptive Democratic candidate, and thus lessen his position in the polls. Kanye could potentially do this via write-in votes.
Election forecaster Rachel Bitecofer explained to USA Today that “celebrity is a major asset” and, thanks to Kanye’s money and fame, he could still mount a legit write-in campaign, particularly as he has the backing of multi-billionaire, Elon Musk.
“Then you don’t need ballot access. He’s got his own fortune, his wife’s fortunate and obviously support from Musk,” Bitecofe said. “Let’s say he was serious and he put time, effort and money into this effort then it could potentially siphon off votes from Biden. It really would be dependent on that amount of effort. If it’s just a joke then obviously it’s not going to have that much of an effect.”
She continued, “If I was on the Biden campaign today and this came across last night, I would definitely see it as a serious threat and one that I would want to avoid.”
Per CNN, some people suspect the opposite, arguing that he’ll attract black Trump supporters that want to “burn down the system.” Of course, Kanye could just be promoting a new album, clothing line, or whatever orange thing he’s doing with Musk.
On the off-chance he is able to put together a serious campaign in an extremely short period of time, it’s vital to remember that this is a man who publicly stated that African-American slavery was “a choice,” is anti-abortion, works closely with anti-LGBTQ+ pastors, has made excuses for sexual abusers, and is a vocal supporter of Trump.
Updates to follow.