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Does new national poll offer hope to RFK Jr's independent presidential run?
Does new national poll offer hope to RFK Jr's independent presidential run?
Does new national poll offer hope to RFK Jr's independent presidential run?

Published on: 11/03/2023


(TND) — A new national poll of registered voters shows some support for independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

“Get ready for a transformation in American politics beyond anything in living memory,” Kennedy said on social media after the Quinnipiac University survey was released this week.

The poll showed Kennedy with 22% of the vote in a hypothetical three-way 2024 matchup with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Biden got 39% support in that situation, and Trump got 36% support.

But Kennedy had better showings than Biden or Trump among independents and younger voters.

Kennedy pulled in 36% of support from independents, compared to Biden’s 30% and Trump’s 31%. And he captured 38% of the support from those ages 18-34, compared to Biden’s 32% and Trump’s 27%.

Kennedy didn’t lead in any of the three racial/ethnic subcategories, though he got more support than Trump among Black people and Hispanics, and he was just three percentage points off Biden’s lead among Hispanics.

"With minority and younger voters seeming intrigued, Kennedy, for now, enjoys the kind of demographic support his charismatic father and uncles generated decades ago," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said in a news release.

Kennedy, who calls himself “a lifelong Democrat,” abandoned his Democratic bid for president last month in favor of an independent run.

But Oklahoma State University politics professor Seth McKee said Kennedy isn’t likely to make a meaningful mark on next year’s election.

“It's name ID with nothing behind it,” McKee said.

Kennedy, 69, is a lawyer and author. He’s the son of former attorney general and senator Robert Kennedy and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy.

And in recent years he’s made a name for himself with anti-vaccine positions.

McKee said he would expect a much worse showing for Kennedy than the 22% he pulled in the Quinnipiac poll as the election draws closer.

He chalked much of the support now to “polling ignorance” and disgruntlement with the two-party system and the likely nominees, Biden and Trump.

“And I think that (survey) just becomes an outlet,” he said. “So, when you poll people, you could have put Mickey Mouse Jr. on there instead of RFK Jr., and you're probably going to get traction.”

You have to go back to 1850 to find someone other than a Republican or Democrat occupying the White House.

And the only independent candidate in modern history to really make waves was Ross Perot in 1992.

Perot earned nearly 19% of the popular vote in ’92, and he spiked turnout.

But he didn’t earn a single electoral vote, and McKee said there’s “just really no conclusive evidence” that Perot siphoned off enough votes to sway the outcome of the election.

Perot ran again in 1996 and performed worse, getting just 8% of the popular vote.

If Perot was the high-water mark for an independent candidate, McKee said that Kennedy is likely to be a drip in the bucket.

McKee said voters will pick between the Republican and Democrat, worried anything else will be a waste of their vote.

“All that matters are battleground states,” McKee said.

And voters in those swing states, maybe eight or fewer of them, could be even more hesitant to give up their vote for someone outside of the two major parties, he said.

The Quinnipiac poll also found Biden and Trump as clear favorites within their parties. And the rematch of Biden and Trump is a virtual toss-up, 47% for Biden and 46% for Trump.

Quinnipiac said that’s unchanged from its August and September national polls.

"Trump goes to war with the American legal system, while Biden wrestles with military conflicts on two fronts,” Malloy said in the Quinnipiac news release. “Despite the swirling tumult, the partisan criticism, and rancor, the two candidates are still as tied as tied can be.”

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