Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign is largely seen as a vanity campaign with no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination or the presidency. Why? Because it is. But despite this fact, Kennedy poses a significant problem for Joe Biden.
Several recent polls show Kennedy’s support at roughly 20%. While these numbers don’t suggest he can surpass Biden in the primaries, they indicate a level of support comparable to Bernie Sanders during the 2020 primaries, which is nothing to sneeze at. When incumbents have a challenger who polls high enough to justify sticking around, it weakens the incumbent in the general election. Remember Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy in 1980?
But why is Kennedy polling so strongly against Biden? According to one poll, there are a few reasons, but primarily, it’s dissatisfaction with Joe Biden.
According to a new poll from Convention of States Action, in partnership with The Trafalgar Group, 66.1% attribute Robert Kennedy Jr.’s increasing support in the Democratic presidential primary to general dissatisfaction with President Biden. Another 21% attribute it to Kennedy’s opposition to the political and corporate establishment, while 9.9% attribute it to his stance on vaccines and COVID-19 management. Lastly, 2.9% attribute his rising support to his opposition to U.S. intervention in foreign wars.
Among Democratic voters, 60.4% attribute Robert Kennedy Jr.’s increasing support in the Democratic presidential primary to general dissatisfaction with President Biden, while 22.6% attribute it to his opposition to the political and corporate establishment.
“This polling on the 2024 presidential race shows what we’ve seen on several other polls, Americans of all backgrounds are fed up with the politics as usual coming out of the D.C. swamp,” said Mark Meckler, president of the Convention of States. “Voters are struggling paycheck to paycheck and watching as inflation eats away their savings. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration is unable to find any semblance of a strategic and sound fiscal policy but continues unabated spending while governing only for the benefit of their corporate and special interest cronies. Like him or not, apparently many voters are seeing support for Kennedy as an expression of dissatisfaction with the Biden Administration.”
Polls have consistently shown that Democratic voters desire an alternative to Joe Biden—someone younger, stronger, and mentally competent. While Kennedy may not be the specific alternative they had in mind, his polling indicates a genuine hunger for another candidate. If dissatisfaction with Biden is the primary reason why Kennedy is managing to poll at 20% against an incumbent president, it suggests that if Biden’s position continues to weaken over time (which it likely will), it may inspire a more formidable challenger to step in and “save the Democratic Party in 2024.” Even after he announced his intention to run again, Biden’s approval ratings hit their lowest levels.
Biden is clearly a weak candidate, and there are likely several other Democrats who, if they were to jump in, would take an even larger chunk of support away from Joe Biden.
And perhaps even beat him.