When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced he would run as an independent instead of remaining a contender for the Democrat Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, pundits immediately started debating about whether the candidate would take more votes away from President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump.
A series of recent polls show that Mr. Kennedy is gaining momentum and is having a mostly equal impact on both candidates.
A survey of registered voters conducted from Siena College and the New York Times released in early November indicated that in six battleground states, Mr. Kennedy would receive 24 percent of the vote in a three-way race, while President Trump would get 35 percent and President Biden 33 percent. The balance said they remained undecided or wouldn’t vote.
The poll included 3,662 likely voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The margin of sampling error is about 4.5 percent plus or minus for each state poll.
“Trump only retains significant leads in Nevada and Georgia. Arizona and Pennsylvania move from the Trump column to dead even. And Wisconsin and Michigan remain very tight,” Siena College Research Institute Director Dr. Don Levy said in a statement.
The same poll showed Mr. Kennedy leading President Biden and President Trump among voters under the age of 45 in those six states.
Mr. Kennedy registered 34 percent support among voters aged 18 to 29 compared to 30 percent for President Biden and 29 percent for President Trump. For voters aged 30 to 44, Mr. Kennedy led with 31 percent while President Biden and President Trump each collected 30 percent.
Mr. Kennedy is significantly ahead among independents.
“While 18 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans say they would back RFK, 39 percent of independents would back Kennedy, compared to 28 percent for Biden and 25 percent for Trump.”Mr. Levy said.
The results of that survey reflect a Nov. 1 study by Quinnipiac University that showed independents support Mr. Kennedy at 36 percent, President Trump at 31 percent, and President Biden at 30 percent.
Mr. Kennedy was the leading candidate for respondents between the ages of 18 and 36 at 38 percent, compared to 32 percent each for President Biden and President Trump.
Overall, the poll indicated that in a three-way race, President Biden garnered 39 percent, President Trump, 36 percent, and Mr. Kennedy, 22 percent. The poll surveyed 1,610 self-identified registered voters nationwide and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
“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 statement.
Mr. Malloy said he believes Mr. Kennedy is drawing support from younger voters because of his plan to introduce 3 percent mortgages funded by tax-free bonds.
“Every other generation was told if you work hard and live by the rules, you can finance a home. You can put money aside for retirement and raise a family with one job. There’s no one in my kids’ generation who thinks that applies to them,” Mr. Kennedy said at a recent campaign stop in Asheville, N.C.
“A lot of my voters are people who just have not voted, and they would not vote given the other two choices,” Mr. Kennedy added. “I think the choices people are getting right now aren’t choices that are exciting.”
David Carlucci, a Democrat campaign strategist and a former New York state senator, is skeptical that Mr. Kennedy will maintain his current momentum.
“I think that, when you look at the polls and the people supporting RFK Jr., it is more the anti-vaxxer Trump voters than anyone else. He’s a name they think they know, but they really don’t. When they get to know him, they won’t like him because of his vast conspiracy theory stances,” Mr. Carlucci told The Epoch Times.
“At the end of the day, when people go to vote, they will have to make a decision, hold their nose and vote for Biden or Trump,” Mr. Carlucci added.