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Spoiler alert? Poll has RFK Jr. grabbing 22 percent against Biden and Trump

Running with a promise to “spoil” the 2024 presidential contest, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just received a sign that he might be making good on that pitch: A recent poll shows him with 22 percent support in a hypothetical three-way race against President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Biden, by contrast, would take 39 percent of the vote, and Trump would come away with 36 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University’s survey. In another positive sign for Kennedy, he came away with the backing of a plurality of independents: 36 percent chose him, compared with 31 percent for Trump and 30 percent for Biden.

The overall 22 percent does not suggest he can yet break through the two-party system and put his name on the Electoral College map next year as an independent. But the bigger threat his candidacy poses to Biden and Trump is the possibility of siphoning just enough votes from one of them to swing an otherwise coin-flip state in November.

The Quinnipiac poll, which surveyed 1,610 self-identified registered voters, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. The telephone survey was conducted Oct 26-30, a period that includes Rep. Dean Phillips‘ (D-Minn.) entry into the Democratic primary.

The poll also suggests that Kennedy is pulling more support from Trump than Biden, a finding that matches his Super PAC’s past polling. In a race just between the two former presidents, the Quinnipiac poll projects a near dead heat: 47 percent of registered voters would support the Democratic incumbent over his Republican predecessor’s 46 percent. That result matches many other head-to-head surveys from the last few months, and suggests that Kennedy’s independent candidacy has the potential to inject a further twist into what has long been depicted as a match-up of former presidents.

In a warning sign for Democrats, Kennedy was the leading choice for young voters, aged 18-34, in the poll’s surveyed population — 38 percent of whom chose the environmental lawyer. From the same age group, 32 percent picked Biden and 27 percent went for Trump.

Kennedy, detailing his disenchantment with partisan politics and what he has called an unfair Democratic primary system, declared his independent presidential bid last month. He had no real chance to win the Democratic primary, as the national party apparatus had already gotten behind Biden’s reelection bid. His skeptical views on vaccine efficacy have also inflamed a significant portion of his former party.

The poll is just another sign that Kennedy’s independent bid might have significant appeal from Americans wary of another Trump or Biden presidency. A recent POLITICO analysis recently found that Kennedy has pulled millions of dollars from people who didn’t donate in the past two presidential elections. That analysis also found that his financial backing more often come from those who gave to Trump rather than to Biden.

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