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R.F.Okay. Jr. Isn’t a Spoiler Now, Poll Suggests, however He Could Be in November

R.F.Okay. Jr. Isn’t a Spoiler Now, Poll Suggests, however He Could Be in November


When Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Democrat-turned-independent candidate, introduced his run for president, it was cheap to assume he is likely to be a attainable spoiler — a candidate who drew voters away from President Biden and will assist elect Donald J. Trump.

So far, it’s not so easy.

Across the battleground states within the New York Times/Siena College polls launched Monday, Mr. Kennedy truly drew considerably extra help from Mr. Trump than Mr. Biden, with 8 p.c of Mr. Trump’s supporters preferring Mr. Kennedy within the five-way race to 7 p.c of Mr. Biden’s supporters.

Looking on the minor-party candidates extra typically, the outcomes had been primarily equivalent in both the two-way or the five-way race. Mr. Trump led by 6.19 factors amongst registered voters throughout the six states within the two-way race, in contrast with a 6.16-point lead when Mr. Kennedy and different minor-party candidates made up a five-way race. Needless to say, this isn’t a cloth distinction.

There is a twist, nevertheless — one which raises the likelihood that Mr. Kennedy may finally play an even bigger function than he does at the moment.

The twist is that Mr. Kennedy attracts disproportionately from voters who normally again Democrats however have defected to Mr. Trump.

In reality, Mr. Kennedy truly takes extra Biden 2020 voters than Trump ’20 voters, though Mr. Kennedy attracts extra Trump ’24 voters than Biden ’24 voters.

He drew 8 p.c of Mr. Biden’s 2020 supporters to six p.c of those that backed Mr. Trump, though extra of his supporters would again Mr. Trump at the moment.

Similarly, Mr. Kennedy drew 7 p.c of self-identified Democrats, in contrast with 4 p.c of Republicans.

And he drew 8 p.c of those that backed Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate within the 4 states the place we requested about them, in contrast with 6 p.c of those that backed the Republican candidate.

It might sound complicated that Mr. Kennedy is disproportionately robust among the many sliver of Trump voters who normally vote Democratic, nevertheless it makes loads of sense. The polls present many disengaged younger and nonwhite voters who normally lean Democratic, however have soured a lot on Mr. Biden that they backed Mr. Trump within the polls. But it’s not as in the event that they love Mr. Trump. They voted in opposition to him final time, in spite of everything, they usually normally vote Democratic. So it’s simple to see why these voters would like Mr. Kennedy to Mr. Trump.

All of this provides as much as an uncommon takeaway: Mr. Kennedy could also be successful over voters whom Mr. Biden may have with a view to win, even when these voters have soured on him a lot that they wouldn’t vote for him even when Mr. Kennedy weren’t on the poll. He is probably not a spoiler now, however maybe he may very well be if Mr. Biden’s standing improved.

If you’ve been studying the polling about Mr. Kennedy rigorously, you’ve seen that his stage of help will be in every single place. In some polls, he barely wins any help in any respect. In others, he’s reached practically 20 p.c or extra — together with in our final Times/Siena polls of those identical states.

What’s the reason? Today, my colleague Ruth Igielnik reviews the findings of an experiment that helps resolve the thriller. The brief reply: It’s in regards to the wording and order of the questionnaire.

You’ll wish to learn extra about it right here, together with how one among our personal colleagues (who has a generic-sounding title) fared as a hypothetical third-party candidate.

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