Rumors of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. potentially departing the Democratic Party could pose a significant challenge to President Joe Biden’s 2024 re-election hopes.
During a recent town hall in North Charleston, South Carolina, Kennedy was questioned about the possibility of running for the presidency as an independent. Despite expressing a desire to maintain his affiliation with the party closely tied to the Kennedy family, he didn’t discount any possibilities.
“The Democratic National Committee seems to want to sideline me, so I’m keeping all paths on the table,” Kennedy remarked.
Many Democrats fear that a third-party contender in the general election might divert votes from Biden, especially given his wavering approval ratings. This would potentially tip the scales in favor of the 2024 Republican nominee. Concerns of this nature heightened after Cornel West declared his Green Party candidacy. As Biden’s popularity battles with that of the previous GOP president, Donald Trump, such concerns grow.
Political analyst Jay Townsend commented to Newsweek, “Having Robert Kennedy Jr. run under the Libertarian banner is the last thing Biden would want. It would spell trouble for his campaign.”
Recent polls indicate that 33% of Democrats might support Kennedy if he decides to run independently, an increase from the 25% who’d back him in the primaries.
Kennedy’s campaign spokesperson mentioned to Newsweek, “Biden’s dwindling popularity, evident from the willingness of a third of Democrats to support an independent, highlights the significance of a balanced primary election.”
Gary Johnson, the past GOP New Mexico governor and Libertarian Party nominee in two previous elections, noted that Kennedy’s independent run could appeal to voters disenchanted with the Democratic legacy. Speaking to the New York Times, Johnson said, “If Kennedy becomes the Libertarian candidate, he has my vote since he’s not Biden or Trump.”
When probed about potential third-party competition, a Biden insider shared with NBC News, “Every vote is crucial in a close election. Are we concerned? Definitely. We need to tread cautiously.”
Polls suggest increasing dissatisfaction among Americans with the available candidates. A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that 30% of Americans view both major parties unfavorably, while 63% aren’t pleased with the current presidential contenders. Additionally, 37% expressed a desire for more party options.
In another development, over 15,000 Arizonans have signed up with No Labels, a nascent political party hinting at a bipartisan run against both Biden and Trump. Even though it’s a modest voter count, it could sway results in such a critical state.
Matt Bennett of Third Way, a central Democratic organization, expressed to the Times his concerns about third parties impacting tight elections, stating that such candidates, whether from No Labels or someone like RFK, could adversely affect the president.
Regarding an independent run, Kennedy mentioned he’d decide by October 15.