Jasmine Razeghi writes on the responses to a potential Kanye West presidency in 2020.

On July 4th, rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West announced on Twitter that he is a candidate for President of the United States. 

West tweeted, “we must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States #2020VISION” on Saturday evening. Many question the seriousness of the tweet. Though his announcement could ring true, Kanye already missed the filing deadline to become an Independent candidate in some states. 

Here’s How People Responded

So far, his wife, Kim Kardashian West retweeted her husband’s post and added an American flag emoji in her show of support. CEO of Tesla Elon Musk  tweeted his support for the rapper, writing, “you have my full support!”. Billionaire Mark Cuban joined with his support of West, tweeting, “if there was Rank Choice voting available and @kanyewest was on the ballot with @JoeBiden and @realDonaldTrump , I would have @kanyewest ahead of @realDonaldTrump.” 

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee responded to West’s announcement, stating that becoming President will be a “rude awakening” for the rapper’s career. The former Governor pointed out the limitations that West would have in his entertainment career. He also noted that “it’s a free country” and that West “can certainly run”. 

In a Op-Ed released by CNN, Dean Obeidallah warned that “the media — like they mostly covered Trump non-stop — will cover West (at least at first) because he’s a celebrity and will likely get ratings and clicks. But this isn’t a game. We aren’t at an MTV awards show… we are living in dangerous times that demand thoughtful, informed leadership — not another celebrity fueled by his own ego to get attention.”

The History of Kanye West and Donald Trump

Kanye West, in the past, was candid about his support for Trump. In 2018, West met with President Trump in the Oval Office wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. After their discussion of various topics, Kanye hugged Trump and stated, “I love this guy right here.”

Asked during the meeting whether Kanye could be a future presidential candidate, Trump responded, “he could very well be.” West then added, “only after 2024.” This exchange should also be evidence that the seriousness of a Kanye West presidency is questionable. Will he really run against Trump, even as an avid support of his?

A Kanye West Run May Hurt Trump 

Maybe the rapper decided that he is a better candidate for presidency than Trump. Surely, if West does pursue a place on the ballot as an Independent candidate, it will split the vote between Trump and Biden. Perhaps West’s intention is to garner votes from Joe Biden, a way to support Donald Trump. But that may not be a successful tactic.

In 2015, a YouGov/Huffington Post poll showed West with a 17% favorability among Democrats and an 11% favorability among Republicans. The support shifted after Kanye’s public praise of the President in 2018. According to a YouGov/Huffington Post poll taken after the rapper’s praise of Trump in April 2018, there was a 13% favorability among Democrats and a 34% favorability among Republicans. 

With many of West’s Republican supporters, the split vote in November could actually take votes away from those who do not want to vote for Trump but also do not want to vote Democrat this election. West’s announcement could also encourage more independent candidates to emerge. Notably, in the 2016 election Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein from the Green Party split the vote when Hillary Clinton faced Donald Trump. 

It is possible that Kanye West’s announcement for candidacy will create a domino effect of Independent candidacy announcements. However, it is still questionable if his announcement was serious at all.