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Can Kanye run for President? Could he affect the election outcome?

With just four months to the vote, Kanye says he'll run. Is he too late to make an impact?

With less than four months before the November 3 United States election, Kanye West has tweeted that he's running for president. Experts say he can technically join the race but it won't be easy and it'll cost a lot of money to win a few votes.

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Kanye's run is supported by his wife Kim Kardashian as well as Tesla boss Elon Musk.

Is it too late to get on the ballot?

Kanye could either run as an independent or secure the backing of a smaller political party — such as the Libertarian Party. (In the 2016 presidential election the party won 4.5 million votes, equal to 3.6 per cent of the popular vote).

All the minor parties, however, have already chosen their presidential candidates for 2020.

If Kanye runs as an independent, he's too late to make the ballot in some states.

Deadlines to lodge a nomination have passed in at least six states, including the large population centres of Texas, New York and Illinois.

The deadlines on another six will expire at the end of July, said David Smith, senior lecturer in American politics at the University of Sydney.

"Between them those 12 states have a third of the electoral college votes," he said.

"It's not too late in many places but it is getting very late."

Kanye West meets Donald Trump in October 2018

Kanye West meets Donald Trump in October 2018.

Kanye West meets Donald Trump in October 2018

Kanye West meets Donald Trump in October 2018.

Remember, under the complicated rules of American presidential elections, each state is assigned a number of electoral college votes. These are 538 of these in total. Trump won a majority (304) in 2016 to claim the presidency.

Getting on the ballot is not simple, either. Kanye would have to gather tens of thousands of signatures across the US, to show that he has support. Doing this would require hiring staff or recruiting volunteers.

In summary: In most states Kanye can still get on the ballot, but it won't be easy.

Aside from this, many states also allow voters to simply write the name of a candidate on the ballot sheet — these are called 'write-in candidates'. If he fails to lodge in time to get on the ballot, Kanye could also rely on this.

Is he serious?

Despite tweeting his intention, Kanye reportedly hasn't registered his name with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for November's election. Though he can do this anytime before the election, it's a necessary step.

This also isn't the first time Kanye has announced his intention to run for President. In 2015, he said he'd contest the 2020 election, and didn't follow up. Last November, he said he would run in the 2024 contest. That could be the case again. So far, Kanye's 2020 presidential election campaign has been one very popular tweet.

The entrepreneur has also been teasing an upcoming album.

Independent candidates who start this late tend to do badly. In August 2016 a former CIA operative, Evan McMullin, announced his run for November. He raised $1.6 million and won 0.53 per cent of the popular vote.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Centre for Politics, told Reuters that Kanye would win no more than a few percentage points.

"He's got a long way to go even to convince us that he's serious," said Sabato.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian attend a gala ball in 2015

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian attend a gala ball in 2015.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian attend a gala ball in 2015

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian attend a gala ball in 2015.

Nathan Gonzales, editor of Inside Elections newsletter said Kanye had missed the window of opportunity to have a meaningful impact.

David Smith said it was hard to tell if Kanye was serious.

"He's a complicated guy," he said.

"Kanye West has a lot of achievements under his belt but organising a campaign on the scale that Trump did — I don't think he'd be able to do that."

Could he affect the outcome?

Independent candidates can affect election outcomes. In 1992, businessman Ross Perot won 19 per cent of the popular vote and split the Republican vote — the Democratic nominee, Bill Clinton, won an upset victory over the incumbent.

Even a small number of votes can decide the outcome. In 2000, Green Party nominee Ralph Nader won 10,000 votes in Florida, which was decided by 500 votes. Without that, Al Gore would have become President instead of George W. Bush.

US presidential elections don't have preferences, like in Australia. A vote for a losing candidate won't flow to another in the counting. Major parties can use minor ones to effectively steal votes from the opposition.

What vote would Kanye split? One analysis is that Kanye is popular with young black men who would otherwise vote Democrat. In September 2015, 25 per cent of black Americans said they would consider voting for him, compared to 3 per cent of white Americans. Democrats saw him more favourably than Republicans.

More recent polls, however, suggest that's no longer the case and that Republicans may be more likely to vote Kanye. After Kanye openly praised President Trump in April 2018, public opinion flipped. Nine per cent of black Americans said they had a favourable opinion of him, compared to 20 per cent of whites.

"It's not clear who Kanye West would take votes away from at this point," David Smith said.

Though Kanye has praised Trump in the past, he's since distanced himself from those comments. His admiration for the President was more about celebrity and showmanship than political allegiance, Dr Smith suggested.

"He even said at one point that if I run for president I want Trump's campaign and Bernie's policies," Dr Smith said.

Third-party nominees do best when voters are ambivalent about the nominees of the major parties — such as in 1992 and 2000.

"This time around it's a little bit different," Dr Smith said.

"There's a sense that it's a high stakes referendum on Donald Trump."

Kanye might have had more of an impact had he run in 2016 rather than 2020, Dr Smith said. Four years later, they've made up their minds.

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