Kanye West’s high-profile support for President Trump, including efforts to convince African-Americans to vote Republican, may have help sink the candidacies of Democrats Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, who ran for governor in Georgia and Florida, respectively.
Both Abrams and Gillum were running historic races. Had they won, both would have become the first African-American governors of two Southern states traditionally controlled by Republicans.
Abrams lost to Republican Brian Kemp, 50.3 percent to 48.7 percent, or a 63,000 vote margin, out of nearly 4 million votes cast, a razor-thin margin.
The race was marred by alleged conflicts of interest and allegations of voter suppression. Kemp also served as Secretary of State, whose office oversees elections and refused to resign or recuse himself during the election.
In Florida, the race was even closer. Republican Ron DeSantis received 49.7 percent of the vote to 49.1 percent for Gillum, a difference of 43,000 votes out of more than 8 million votes cast. The margin is so thin, it may result in a recount.
Both Georgia and Florida have large hip-hop and rap followings. West, as a leading rapper, is influential. He has nearly 28 million followers on Twitter and had millions of followers on Instagram, until he deleted his account. He’s since returned with about 400,000 followers.
West first expressed his support for Trump two weeks after the he was elected president, declaring he would have supported him–if he’d voted in the election.
More significantly, in a speech after the rapper’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live” in September, he wore a red Trump cap and declared that he wanted to break the long-standing link between black voters and the Democratic Party.
“Actually, blacks weren’t always Democrats,” he said in an impromptu speech on the show. “It’s like a plan they did to take the fathers out the homes and promote welfare. Does anybody know about that? That’s the Democratic plan,” he said.
That followed his rap:
“I wanna cry right now. Black man in America, you’re supposed to keep what you feel inside right now. And the liberals bully you and tell you what you can and cannot wear, where you and they can’t not stare. And they look at me and say, ‘It’s not fair. How the hell did you get here? Well…”
In October, less than a month before the election, West had a widely publicized Oval Office meeting with Trump, widely viewed as taking their bromance to a new level.
Jared Kushner and Ivanka, Kid Rock and NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown also sat through West’s meandering 10-minute monologue.
Then, West was caught up in a publicity stunt by Fox News talking head Candace Owens involving the launch of a so-called “Blexit” clothing line encouraging blacks to join the Republican Party. West later denounced the move and claimed he’d been used.
But by then, the damage may have already been done. West may have caused some young black voters to support the Republican candidates or discouraged them from voting at all because of his conflicted advice.
It’s impossible to know how much impact, if any, West had on those two key races. But there’s no question his influence in the rap community is substantial.
Since the races in Georgia and Florida were decided by a handful of votes in each precinct, West’s antics may have been enough to sink both campaigns.
Check out the video below: