Poll: 1 in 7 would back RFK Jr. as independent candidate

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(NewsNation) — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is expected to announce next week he will be running for president as an independent, and new polling suggests it could spell trouble for both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

The new survey from Reuters/Ipsos shows that in a hypothetical three-way matchup, RFK Jr. would draw 14%, while 31% of voters would back Biden, and 33% would support Trump.

Kennedy has teased a “major announcement” he plans to make Monday in Philadelphia.

“If you’ve been waiting to come to one of my public events, this will be the one to come to,” Kennedy said in a video on the social media platform X, the former Twitter.

Kennedy, a current Democratic presidential candidate, has criticized the Democratic National Committee for not hosting primary debates with President Joe Biden. He and Marianne Williamson are the only two to announce Democratic presidential runs, while Cornel West is running as an independent.

A Republican strategist recently told NewsNation host Elizabeth Vargas he’s been seeing a lot of RFK Jr. yard signs in New Hampshire.

“It says something; he has an appeal,” Vargas said Friday on “The Hill on NewsNation.”

Appetite for somebody other than Biden or Trump has been high in this election cycle.

Sixty-three percent of Americans now say America needs a third political party, the highest result since Gallup started polling Americans about the question in 2003.

Support for a third party was highest among self-identified independents, 75% of whom said that the “Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job that a third major party is needed.”

But a majority of Republicans, too, argued for the need for more choices, with 58% endorsing the need for a third party; that’s up from 45% when the question was broached last year.

Meanwhile, among Democrats, 46% supported the need for a third party.

Later this month, Kennedy will take his message to the Conservative Political Action Conference event in Las Vegas, where he will be a headline speaker, the conference announced Friday.

CPAC is the premier event for the conservative wing of the Republican Party, where its annual straw poll carries weight among political predictors. Trump has won the straw poll every year since 2016, when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, won.

Kennedy’s support in early Democratic primary polls peaked around 20% this spring but has slowly petered as campaign season ramps up. Biden does not face significant primary opposition.

Earlier this year, Kennedy signaled at a NewsNation town hall that he had no plans to mount a third-party run.

“He’s now changing his tune,” Vargas said.

Kennedy would have a tough hill to climb to win the presidency, as structural features of the American electoral system make it difficult for third parties to mount competitive bids for the White House.

NewsNation reporter Zaid Jilani and The Hill contributed to this report.

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