With RFK Jr. In the Mix, One of These Candidates Takes a Hit

New NBC News poll shows Donald Trump suffers from third-party bid more than President Biden
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2024 10:50 AM CDT
With RFK Jr. In the Mix, One of These Candidates Takes a Hit
In this combination photo, President Biden, left, speaks in Milwaukee on March 13, 2024, and former President Trump speaks in New York on Jan. 11.   (AP Photo)

Various polls and pundits have been supporting the narrative that third-party presidential runs in the upcoming election, especially the one by independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., will prove more harmful to President Biden's reelection bid than former President Trump's. A new survey seems to be finding just the opposite:

  • Findings: According the NBC News poll of 1,000 registered US voters from April 12 to April 16, a two-way race between Biden and Trump would leave Trump in the lead, 46% to Biden's 44%; 10% say they're not sure or wouldn't vote. Add in third-party candidates RFK Jr., Jill Stein, and Cornel West to that mix, however, and Biden takes the lead over Trump, 37% to 35%. In that scenario, Kennedy brings in 13% of voters, while Stein and West earn 3% and 2%, respectively. NBC points out that "the movement the other candidates create is within the poll's margin of error."

  • Popularity: Part of those results may be tied to the fact that Republicans think more positively of Kennedy (40% positive, 15% negative) than Democrats (16% positive and a much higher 53% negative).
  • Biden on the attack: Per the Hill, the president's campaign team is now taking things up a notch in its pushback against Kennedy, including with ads pointing out that most of Kennedy's entire extended family has endorsed Biden. "The issue here is leaving nothing to chance," a Democratic pollster told Politico last week.
  • Discrepancy: So why is this poll different from past ones? "There's always two possibilities: One, it's an outlier," a GOP pollster involved with the survey tells NBC. "Or two, we're going to be seeing more of this, and our survey is a harbinger of what's to come."
  • Who knows, though: In his piece for Slate last month, David Faris wrote that Biden and Trump "should both be terrified" of what third-party runs could mean for their own reelection campaigns. "The presidential election is about to get much more stressful for everybody," Faris predicted. "Kennedy is polling better than any third-party candidate in a generation."
(More Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stories.)

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