OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Independent 2024 presidential contender Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is continuing to draw in support from both traditional Democratic and Republican voters in a way that could make him the first legitimate third-party candidate since Ross Perot in the early 1990s.
As reported by the New York Post, RFK Jr. is surging in polls, and in a three-way race with President Joe Biden and likely 2024 GOP nominee Donald Trump, he’s managing to post respectable numbers — enough to sway the outcome of the race one way or another, even as he battles to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.
Kennedy Jr. “drew hundreds from across the political spectrum to a rally in Utah’s capital Thursday night,” The Post reported, adding that “spectators lined up outside the SKY nightclub an hour in advance to get good seats, with some telling The Post they felt energized enough to get politically involved for the first time in their lives.”
Lynn Cleland said, “I am definitely for Kennedy,” as well as several of his Republican friends.
“I’ve never voted independent in my life. Not only am I voting, but I’ve applied to volunteer, to get the signatures. I’ve bought all the signage. I’ve never, ever done that, and I’m 74,” Cleland continued, per The Post.
The outlet added: With less than a year to go before Election Day, the son of the US attorney general and senator from New York — and nephew of President John F. Kennedy — is averaging 15.8% national support in a four-way race against President Biden, former President Donald Trump and fellow independent Cornel West, according to RealClearPolitics. That figure could go even higher, as a New York Times/Siena College poll of swing state voters found last month that Kennedy averaged 24% support in a three-cornered fight against Trump and Biden.
What’s more, in July, a Quinnipiac University survey found that 47 percent of Americans would actually consider a third-party candidate if Trump and Biden are locked into a rematch next year of their 2020 contest.
“He’s a breath of fresh air. I’ve listened to a lot of political debates and he’s the only person where I’ve really understood what he’s saying,” Kelley Tyburski told The Post. “I think just foundational, who he is, I just really connect with. Values over all.”
Marie Carmel and Lisa Draper told the outlet they were impressed by RFK Jr.’s lack of “infighting” with the other candidates and his focus on helping the middle class.
“This is the first time we’ve done any type of rally, so this is a big deal for us,” said Carmel, while Draper added this is the first election cycle she wasn’t considering voting for either of the two mainstream party candidates.
“I’d say I’m in the camp,” Autumn Doyle, who told the outlet she was raised on the “left” but doesn’t feel like she fits into either major party, said. “If he makes it onto the ballot, I’d vote for him. Maybe I could convince some family members too.”
If Kennedy Jr.’s national support remains above 15 percent, he could also make it onto the debate stage next year, as three presidential debates are currently scheduled.
In September, Trump reacted to potentially teaming up with Kennedy Jr., singing his praises as “a smart guy.”
During a call-in segment with Newsmax host Rob Schmitt, the 45th president was asked if he thought Kennedy would impact the race if he ran on a third-party ticket.
“I don’t know, but he’s got great support in the party. He’s got great support in the Democrat Party,” Trump responded. Trump added that he had seen some polling where Kennedy was getting 23 percent. “That’s a lot of votes,” he said.
“A lot of people like you and him as a combination, too,” Schmitt said. “I don’t think that can happen, but have you ever thought about that?” He added: “Trump/Kennedy looks good on a bumper sticker.”
“No, but people have suggested it. I read the same things that you do. There are a lot of people suggesting it, there’s no question about that,” Trump added. “I’ve known him over the years. He’s a smart guy and well-intentioned. I really believe he’s very well-intentioned.”