OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A new analysis by a pair of political consultants is good news for former President Donald Trump, as he looks to be on a path to a rematch against President Joe Biden.
Assuming the independent candidate receives enough votes, Democrats are worried that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will hurt Biden’s chances of winning this election. The contentious political heir to one of America’s most illustrious families, John F. Kennedy, broke away from the Democratic Party last year to run as an Independent, a move that has earned him high marks in numerous polls.
It remains uncertain how many Americans will see Kennedy’s name on their ballots this year, even though both Democrats and Republicans generally see him as a threat to the unpopular Biden rather than to the GOP front-runner, former President Trump.
“It’s unclear how serious his campaign is going to be. Where’s he going to be on the ballot?” said Tim Miller, a Republican strategist and prominent Trump critic, MSN reported. “Are they the types of states that have more MAGA-type voters or the types of states that have more minority voters?”
With more state ballot deadlines quickly approaching, both parties are keeping a close eye on Kennedy in the days leading up to the first contests of the election. After North Carolina in a few weeks, Utah will have the cycle’s biggest dark horse on the ballot. His candidacy has gained more attention from campaigns on both sides of the aisle in the past few weeks due to his consistent polling standing.
Even though Kennedy has met the requirements to become eligible in Utah, many still doubt that he will be able to appear on ballots in every state plus DC. An outsider running for office would have a tough time, according to experts, because the qualification process is costly and differs greatly from state to state.
It is still not apparent how much of an effect Kennedy will have on the race, even if he manages to obtain a majority of the votes.
By endorsing anti-vaccine rhetoric and appointing vaccine skeptic Del Bigtree to head up his communications effort, Kennedy has set himself up nicely for a conservative audience. Additionally, he has experimented with conspiracy theories and nationalist rhetoric, in addition to more traditional Republican campaign strategies like heavily funding his campaign with outside donations.
Supporters of Kennedy’s bid point to American Values 2024, a political action committee (PAC) partly financed by mega-donor Timothy Mellon, which plans to spend more than $15 million in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada—and in solidly blue states like New York and California, where Kennedy could be competitive—to bolster his candidacy.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference not long ago, Kennedy furthered his right-wing leanings by criticizing the effort to remove Trump from the Colorado ballot due to the former president’s role in the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021. These actions, taken as a whole, reassure prospective Republican voters that he feels their pain.
For instance, many are worried that Kennedy won’t be able to make the early March ballot deadline in North Carolina.
“Not at all,” said a former early-state Trump associate about whether Kennedy’s presence could hurt the former president. The associate spoke to The Hill on the condition of anonymity. “Different demographic that would vote for him.”
Activists on the outside think he could unseat Biden, even in a marginal capacity, if he does qualify in key places, even though few in Biden’s inner circle openly discuss his candidacy.
“I still think him being on the ballot isn’t a good thing for Biden,” said Sawyer Hackett, a senior Democratic strategist and former campaign aide. “Too much of a wild card, especially given Biden’s negatives.”
“If I was a Democrat. I would be more freaked out than I would be if I was a Republican,” said another GOP strategist, who noted Trump still remains widely popular with large parts of the Republican base. Others in the party also have indicated in polling throughout the cycle that they would vote for him if he’s the nominee. “Anyone who’s going to vote for RFK was looking for somebody else anyways. That looks more like a Biden problem than a Trump problem.”