Leadership Strategy

WAP vs. MAGA? How Cardi B Can Impact The Race For President

On Sunday, popular rapper and entertainment superstar Cardi B lashed out at President Trump after her sister was purportedly confronted by a group of MAGA supporters over a parking space at a beach in New York. While the celebrity’s social media posts were inflammatory, it’s what she does next that might actually influence the outcome of the presidential election.

On Sunday evening, Cardi B posted video of her sister Hennessy Carolina being purportedly harassed by a group of “racist MAGA supporters.” In her online post, Cardi B didn’t hold back.

“Meanwhile not only you got racist [MAGA] supporters that are [lynching], racist cop shootings and killing black men all cause their leader make them feel like they could do so,” Cardi B posted. She continued, with an apparent reference to President Trump: “My sister couldn’t even park her car today with out this man harassing her girlfriend soon as the camera came out they started being sweet. TGIS BRAVENESS IS COMING FROM THEIR LEADERS ENERGY.” 

Carolina also posted video of the altercation online, later commenting in a lengthy (and expletive filled) Instagram story that both expressed her sadness and anger at being subject to apparent racism. Afterward, Cardi B also engaged in a twitter spat with Candace Owens, a conservative commentator who apparently took issue with the fact that Cardi B hosted an online interview with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in August.

Cardi B didn’t take Owen’s words lightly and, in a back and forth exchange, the rapper was not modest about her influence.

Despite her bold words, what is the most interesting thing about Cardi B’s posts? 

She is probably right.

As America hurtles towards its most consequential presidential election in generations, a key factor in determining whether President Trump will be reelected or Biden will replace him will be the overall voter turnout. In that sense, the ability to inspire and mobilize voters on both sides of the political divide will be key to the outcome in November.

Approximately 2.78 million Americans under the age of 25 have registered to vote in 2020. Younger voters are also registering at a high rate, with more than one in three new registrants in August representing that age demographic. Additionally, People of Color represent 32% of the new registrants in that demographic. Recent polling also shows that voters in those demographics are disproportionally leaning towards supporting Joe Biden.

As a result of a myriad of efforts by organizations like the League of Women Voters, Spread the Vote, and others, mixed with a surge of interest in issues of racial justice, policing, and public health, there has been record voter registration rates in many states across the country. While “get out the vote” initiatives are nothing new, the power of social media and celebrity appeals are likely to be a huge factor in mobilizing this year’s voters, especially with respect to younger voting demographics. Initiatives such as LeBron James’ More than A Vote and others have zeroed in on this potential, as have other initiatives that focus on appeals by musical artists and their fan followings.

That is where Cardi B fits in. The 27-year-old rapper and media megastar is not without her critics, including those who dislike the music video for her recent song, WAP, which is performed with Megan Tha Stallion and sits atop music charts. But Cardi B also has a massive fan following, as represented by her over 75 million Instagram followers and countless fans. With chart-topping songs and a take no prisoner’s attitude regarding her identity, her sexuality, and her career, the artist has the ability to both influence and inspire her followers in a myriad of ways. And while there is no reason to believe her followers all share her politics, and by no means is the voting interests of Black and Latinx voters monolithic, it is fair to believe that like many of her followers, like Cardi B, would vote for Joe Biden.

So yes, despite her detractors, Cardi B’s assertion that she has the ability to use her platform of unabashed empowerment to motivate millions of  followers is probably correct. She very well might have the power to inspire her followers to not only move their bodies to her music, but move themselves to vote in the coming election, potentially for a new president. And if Cardi B does that…

It could be her biggest hit of all.

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