What Kanye West’s presidential announcement tells us about 2016

The yearning for outsiders is palpable. The latest Iowa Poll shows Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina taking almost half the vote in the Iowa caucuses. 

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Kanye West accepts the Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles Aug. 30.

Kanye West is running for president. Not now, but in 2020.

The rapper made his big announcement Sunday night at MTV’s Video Music Awards at the end of a rambling 10-½ minute speech to accept a lifetime achievement award.

Maybe Mr. West was in a bit of a haze. But given the growing strength of the nonpoliticians in the 2016 Republican primary – Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina – all bets are off.

A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll released over the weekend showed the combined total of those three at 46 percent among likely Republican caucus-goers next February in Iowa, the crucial first state in the nomination race. That’s almost half the vote in a 17-candidate GOP field. Mr. Trump, the business tycoon, got 23 percent; Dr. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, got 18 percent; and Ms. Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, is at 5 percent.

“Not since 1992 has anti-establishment sentiment been this strong,” political scientist Kedron Bardwell of Simpson College told the Register.

The Iowa Poll shows just how angry Republican voters are, a rage that has led many to support outsiders for president. A majority of GOP caucus-goers described themselves as “mad as hell” about both President Obama and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. They’re also unhappy with Republicans in Congress, with 54 percent merely “unsatisfied” and another 21 percent “mad as hell.”

Of particular note is the quiet rise of Carson, who couldn’t be more different from Trump, at least in temperament. The Register poll also showed Carson with the highest favorability rating of anybody in the Republican field at 79 percent positive and only 8 percent negative. Fiorina had the fourth-highest favorability rating, with 64 percent positive and 15 percent negative.

Trump came in eighth on favorability, with 61 percent positive, 35 percent negative. Those numbers, in fact, represent a big victory for him: Last May, in the previous Iowa Poll, Trump scored at only 27 percent favorable and 63 percent unfavorable. He has completely reversed Iowa Republicans’ view of him. Clearly, his call to rein in illegal immigration and “make America great again” speaks to a significant slice of GOP voters.

Carson does especially well among Christian conservatives, a key GOP constituency in Iowa.

But even Trump, who isn’t a purist on abortion and is on his third marriage, fares well enough among Christian conservatives. In the poll, 54 percent viewed him favorably. Trump is “better than what we have,” one Iowa woman told the Register. Though “he could be a charlatan,” she added.

As for West’s supposed campaign in 2020, we’ll believe that when we see it. He’s certainly got Trump’s flair for showmanship, and he’s wealthy enough, though not anywhere close to Trumpian levels. Maybe a reality TV show is part of the plan. And yes, there’s another dimension of Kanye West 2020 that we can’t resist: first lady Kim Kardashian.

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