Oct 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

RFK Jr.'s independent bid could help Biden defeat Trump: Poll

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks with supporters in Miami on Oct. 12. Photo: Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s switch to run as an independent in the 2024 presidential election might make him more of a threat to Trump, new polling reveals.

Why it matters: Kennedy's new bid could help President Biden win against former President Trump — countering Democrats' concerns that running on a third-party ticket could siphon votes from Biden's campaign.

By the numbers: In a potential presidential rematch, Biden only scored three percentage points more than Trump, with 49% of voters supporting him, compared to 46% supporting Trump, per a recent national poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist.

  • But when Kennedy was factored into the mix, 44% of voters supported Biden, marking a seven percentage point lead ahead of Trump, who had 37% of voters backing him, the poll found.

What they're saying: "Although it's always tricky to assess the impact of a third-party candidate, right now Kennedy alters the equation in Biden's favor," Lee M. Miringoff, director of Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said in a statement.

  • "What this does speak to, however, is that about one in six voters are looking for another option, especially independents," Miringoff said.

Catch up quick: Earlier this month, Kennedy dropped his Democratic primary bid for an independent spot, igniting concerns about how that switch would impact Biden's run against Trump.

  • In a 2024 matchup between Biden, Trump and Kennedy, an Ipsos/Reuters poll earlier in October had Biden and Trump neck and neck with 31% and 33% of respondents supporting them, respectively. Meanwhile, 14% supported Kennedy.

Zoom out: Kennedy has shown more popularity among Republicans compared to Democrats, according to previous polling.

  • In five separate recent polls, Kennedy had a higher favorability among Republicans compared to Democrats.

Methodology: The poll surveyed 1,218 registered voters on Oct. 11 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

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