Kanye West's presidential campaign, which has so far seen only one actual campaign event, continues to crawl forward, with the help of professionals generally associated with the Republican Party. Efforts to get West on the ballot in some states, including Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Illinois, are already being challenged as fraudulent.
West seemed to endorse the idea that he's in it to hurt the Democrats to the only reporter that he seems inclined to talk to, Randall Lane of Forbes. "I'm not denying it; I just told you," West texted back when Lane pressed him on the idea that West's campaign was going to serve as a spoiler against Biden. West currently polls nationally at around 2 percent.
Kanye 2020 has now released something like a platform of policies and stances, each and every one of which is buttressed by a quote from the Bible.
If West really is hoping to win and if Republicans are indeed deliberately helping him based on the belief that West will siphon more votes away from Democratic candidate Joe Biden than from Republican President Donald Trump, does that platform seem intelligently crafted for the purpose of taking votes away from Biden?
The platform's main concerns are restoring prayer in school; reducing (through means unspecified) household and student debt; rearranging public education to provide "the widest possible range of educational and vocational paths to job opportunities and career success"; avoiding "foreign quagmires that do not advance our national interest, and which last for decades"; reforming criminal justice and policing to avoid undue harm to the poor and minorities; ending federal sentencing guidelines that result in "ridiculous sentences for the most minor offenses"; supporting clean air and water and renewable energy; calling for "fair trade, not one-sided deals that hurt American workers"; and "support[ing] faith-based groups to provide vital local services."
The platform says nothing about immigration, a hot-button issue that divides a typical would-be Trump voter from a typical would-be Biden voter.
Some of West's policy ideas are things many Democratic voters undoubtedly want from Biden. But will the platform actually help West undermine the Biden campaign? The impact on West himself or any potential West voter of Biden picking Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) as his running mate remains to be seen.
Those looking for a more religious candidate might already be OK with Biden, even if he's not calling for prayer in school or buttressing his positions with Bible quotes. For example, 70 percent of Democrats in a February Pew Research poll said they saw Biden as somewhat or very religious.
On the other hand, a certainty of belief in God, something one would think would lead one to lean Kanye, is far more prominent among Republicans than Democrats, 73 to 55 percent. Indeed, religious belief is "very important" to 61 percent of Republicans, while just 47 percent of Democrats said the same. Meanwhile, only 29 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning Americans go to religious services weekly.
It may be that black Democrats are less strongly devoted to the Democratic Party's progressive-leaning rising wing and perhaps more open to voting West. For example, in 2019 about 65 percent of black Democrats in a Pew Research poll described themselves as conservative or moderate. In that same poll, "black Democrats also are more likely than other Democrats to say morality is linked to a belief in God. A 55% majority of black Democrats say 'it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral.'"
The same Pew poll points to another area where the beliefs of black Democrats might make them inclined to like West's platform: "Black Democrats are more likely than other Democrats to say racism is a very big problem for the country: 79% of black Democrats say this, compared with 70% of Hispanic Democrats and 52% of white Democrats. Black Democrats also see job opportunities for all Americans as a bigger problem for the country than white or Hispanic Democrats."
And unlike West, who has been an enthusiastic Trump fan in the past, a whopping 96 percent of black Democrats disapprove of Trump as president, with 79 percent doing so "strongly."
According to one academic paper, voting patterns indicate that partisan identification was more important to more black voters than strict agreement on moral or policy issues. That could be bad news for Kanye 2020.
However, a 2019 poll from Third Way and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which tried to figure out which issues were most important to black voters, indicates that West's platform might have some real appeal. Of course, that assumes that West actually does anything to make people aware of his positions, such as actively campaigning or talking to the media.
According to that same 2019 poll, 66 percent of polled black Americans see improved water and air quality as something that would benefit them "a great deal." The same was said by 66 percent of black Americans about "creating more higher paying jobs," by 57 percent about "reforming the criminal justice system," and by 55 percent about "providing more access to credit." West's platform speaks to those issues.
There is no polling that I've found which would suggest that West's insistence on a less bellicose foreign policy is of particular appeal to black voters. In fact, West's rhetoric on the issue so closely matches that of Trump that a voter would have little reason to prefer West to Trump in this area.
And it surely has not helped West's candidacy that his own wife basically called it an expression of West's mental illness after his one campaign event so far. But as West later insisted to Forbes, though he is "walking" for president, he is "walking…to win."