Of course not. Let me unequivocally state for the record that Kanye West is not going to win the 2020 Presidential Election. He is currently polling at 2%. But it doesn’t mean that he’s not going to have a say in who DOES become president next year.
Going back throughout history shows a couple of interesting things. First of all, the times we are living in are not all that different from the mid to late 1800s. There were four presidential elections back in the day that were decided by 2% or less of the vote. And not all of the winners had the majority of the popular vote.
In 1844 James Polk beat Henry Clay by 1.4%. Then in 1880, James Garfield and Winfield Scott Hancock basically ended in a tie with Polk winning about 2,000 more votes and getting the presidency. In 1884, Grover Cleveland beat James Blane by 0.6%. And four years later, Benjamin Harrison defeated Cleveland even though Cleveland won the popular vote by 0.8% (sound familiar?)
We had relative calm until 1960 when John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by a mere 112,000 votes thanks to some last-minute shenanigans in Chicago. JFK’s margin was 0.1%. In 1968, not to be outdone, Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey by half a million votes or 0.7%. Then of course we had the 2000 win of George W. Bush despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore by a half a percent. And in 2016, Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 2.0% but lost the electoral college to him big time.
So, does Kanye’s entry into the field throw a monkey wrench into the mix? Well, to look at it a different way, let’s explore how many times in the past century third-party candidates made a difference.
In 1992, George HW Bush lost to Bill Clinton because of Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy. Back in 1968, Nixon’s first win came because of George Wallace’s entry in the field to help defeat Hubert Humphrey. In 1948, Thomas Dewey WOULD have defeated Harry S. Truman, had Strom Thurmond and Henry Wallace both not run (taken about 5% of the vote!). So, yes…it DOES happen.
Now, this past weekend, Kanye had a “rally” in South Carolina. It was sparsely attended by most accounts but was probably a bigger draw than what Joe Biden has been getting. Could Kanye West really have that big of an effect on this year’s election? My guess is yes, he could. If you take 2% of say, the black vote in the country, and make sure those votes pretty much come from people under 30, it could have an impact in a close race. In fact, Kanye, if he indeed stays in the race through the actual election, could impact the outcome IF he is able to get on the ballot in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, and Arizona. So far he can qualify for three of those. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Arizona. He missed Michigan, Florida and Texas, the latter two needed to have petitions filed in the last seven days. Still, that would give him a chance at three battleground states. And if he were to take enough votes off of Joe Biden’s plate and Trump were to win Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Trump wins reelection.
President Kanye? Nah…never happen. Maybe Ambassador Kanye, or Secretary of the Interior Kanye though. I mean, after all, Trump may have to pay him back somehow!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!