We might never know whether the more than 60,000 people who voted for Kanye West did so as a protest to front-runners Joe Biden and Donald Trump, or if they were just having some fun — or if they sincerely liked his pro-religion, pro-environment and pro-education platform.
But we do know he did better in Tennessee than anywhere else.
More Tennesseans (10,216) voted for West — an artist known as much for his musical genius as his sometimes erratic behavior — than those from any other state that included him on the ballot. Among those were more than 800 Chattanooga area voters who supported the hip hop producer and artist.
Abby Cox, a 31-year-old hairdresser in Chattanooga, voted for West because of a shared sense of values expressed by the hip hop mogul in a 2.5-hour interview West did with comedian and podcast provocateur Joe Rogan.
"[The interview] inspired me to believe Kanye. Like his sincerity and his intention is so pure, that he really does seem to me to be what Trump claimed to be when he first started," Cox said, citing West's enthusiasm for business and family. "But the thing about it is that Trump's a bully, and Kanye has to be extremely diplomatic in his profession."
Cox said that she voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2016, but couldn't support Libertarian Jo Jorgensen in 2020. Cox said Jorgensen, like both Trump and Biden, only represents corporate interests and a minority of Americans.
"Like we said with Trump, some people felt like he was going to come in and really shake things up, and it's like he did in some ways for some people, but not enough for the right people or for enough people," she explained. "He only helped the 1%.
"I feel like Kanye, being an artist and being used to hearing 'no' and being from Atlanta, which is just down the street, is a real citizen."
Cox said that people who interpret votes for independents, including Kanye, as a joke are undermining the democratic process and the voters who support them.
"It's insulting, to him as a human, to compare him to a dead gorilla," she said, referencing a similar surge of votes for Harambe, a silverback gorilla infamously killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2016. "He's a person and a person who, I believe, represents me and my values and who has made my life better with his work."
Local radio personality Jeff Styles said he thinks that a vote for Kanye, especially in Tennessee, was a safe, if snarky, way to either express displeasure in the two leading candidates, or have a little fun, or both.
"The only other area more red [Republican] than Tennessee was the Dakotas, so voting for Kanye was a safe, or funny vote," said Styles, of Nooga Radio. "Kind of like voting for [comedian and satirist] Pat Paulsen or Snoopy back in the day."
It would appear that even Biden supporters might have chosen to make some sort of statement, however, as the states with the next highest vote tallies for West were Minnesota with 7,789 and Colorado with 6,254 votes. Vermont, another blue state, had the least votes for West in the Top 10 with 1,265.
The other Top 10 states that voted for West in any measurable way were Oklahoma, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Utah and Kentucky, all states that Trump won.
In all, Kim Kardashian's husband got 60,761 votes from voters in the 12 states where he was on the ballot as of late Wednesday.
On Election Day, West tweeted, "God is so good. Today I am voting for the first time in my life for the President of the United States, and it's for someone I truly trustme." He also suggested he could run again in 2024 with a message he posted on social media that simply read, "Welp Kanye 2024." He later removed the dismissive "Welp" from the message.
West, a winner of 21 Grammy Awards, declared his campaign for the presidency on July 4, and according to his website, which offered hats and hoodies bearing the words "Vote Kanye" and "God Save America," he ran on a platform that advocated for the arts and for the restoration of faith, freedom of religion and prayer in schools.
He also pledged to restore the economy, reduce household debt and student loan debt and maintain a strong national defense, among other things.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.
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