Anyone looking forward to a West presidency may have to put away their Kanye 2020 gear for now. Kanye West winning the 2020 presidential race against Donald Trump and Joe Biden is almost “impossible,” an election expert tells us EXCLUSIVELY. Neil Sroka, Communications Director of Democracy For America, a political action group that helps elect people of color and white progressives into office, explains why it would be so difficult for a candidate like Kanye to win the presidency on a campaign started just four months before the election.
“It’s just to say, the odds of being able to win as an Independent candidate for president are very long even under the best of circumstances, for a variety of reasons,” Neil said. “The idea of trying to launch something in July of an election year is beyond absurd. That’s the long and short of it: logistically, it is very, very difficult for an Independent to run a campaign, even if they had been planning this for years.”
Kanye hasn’t been planning this for years, as we know. The rapper announced his candidacy on July 4, writing on Twitter, “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.” That leaves him just four months to put in the work that Trump and Biden have done in four years.
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
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
It’s not enough to just declare that he’s running for president to enter the race, Neil explained. Candidates need to file paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to formally register their campaign, and as of July 13, Kanye has not. Once that’s complete, he’ll need to focus on getting on the ballot, which will prove to be a significant roadblock. Since Kanye would be running as an Independent candidate, he would need to petition each state individually to have his name printed on the ballot.
Difficult enough as is, but Kanye has already missed the deadline in 10 states, and deadlines in others are quickly approaching. “Even if you were the most well-known person in the world, you’d need ballot access,” Neil explained. For most of the remaining states, Kanye is required to gather a number of signatures from residents who support his campaign. In Florida, for example, Kanye needs 132,781 signatures by July 15. In a few states, like Colorado, Kanye would only need to pay a fee to appear on the ballot — which isn’t hard, considering the man’s a billionaire married to another billionaire.
The alternative is launching a write-in campaign. “Which has never been successful,” Neil added. And that requires — you guessed it — more paperwork and deadlines. “In 33 states, you need to file some sort of paperwork,” he said. “People could write ‘Mickey Mouse’ on the ballot, and unless Mickey Mouse filed an affidavit announcing his candidacy as a write-in, he wouldn’t be president even if he got every single vote.”
Nine states don’t allow write-ins on the ballot at all: Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Hawaii. “We’ve never had in the history of America an Independent successfully win a write-in campaign,” Neil stressed. Should Kanye qualify to appear on the ballot come November in some form, he still faces the challenge of cramming in months of endless campaigning in just a matter of weeks.
“You’re even seeing the Democratic presidential candidate and the Republican presidential candidate struggling [to campaign] because you can’t gather people into large groups” during the coronavirus pandemic, Neil said. “And things like traditional door knocking are harder during the COVID crisis. Even in the best of circumstances it would be impossible, and these are not the best of circumstances.”
If Kanye’s name (or write-in option) appears on the ballot in the 2020 presidential election, there’s another concern. As Neil pointed out, there has never been an elected US president from a third party. Kanye joining the race could mean splitting the vote in November. “We do know that [Independent candidates] can alter the course of presidential contests. That’s the real risk of an effort that’s unsuccessful.
“It can move votes from other candidates to another campaign that doesn’t really have a path to victory in the electoral college. If there’s any real discussion about an Independent effort at this point, it would be concern about that. To what extent could it fuel success, or spoil the success of other candidates running for president?” It’s a matter that many have worried over. Kanye doesn’t have a good chance of winning, but Biden does. Taking votes away from the viable candidate means a significant risk of reelecting Trump.
“After the 2016 election, one has to seriously contemplate the possibility of just about anything,” Neil concluded, referencing Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. “But the chances of winning an Independent bid that hasn’t started until the Fourth of July is equivalent to an extraterrestrial being winning the presidential contest. Anything is possible. I mean, I could get struck by lightning on a cloudless day, I suppose.”
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