Well this was an interesting Sunday morning read. The WaPo has published an article saying the Right -Wing effort (led by Steve “Butt-Hurt” Bannon) to run RFK Jr. against President Biden might blow up in their faces. I’ll admit a bit of skepticism when I clicked on the headline but wound up being glad I did. Since the WaPo article began by noting the effort to run RFJ Jr. in the Democratic Party primaries was a transparent and cynical effort to embarrass the President I was sure the whole thing would be worth the time to read. I’d encourage you to do so for yourself but I’ll try to unpack it for you here.
Bannon and his ilk looked at early poll numbers and thought “A Ha!” – we can do a number on Biden and make RFK Jr. into a credible threat. As sure as you can count on the sun to come up each morning Fox “News” ran with it. After a while though, if it didn’t face-plant the way the House impeachment hearing did the whole thing still fell flat. Worse, as the article goes on to note it could backfire. On Trump! Oops.
No Labels has been lurking out there, another right-wing creation who’s SOLE purpose is to siphon off enough votes from President Biden in key states to flip the election to Trump. Again, it’s a transparent and cynical effort but it’s got enough backing it can be ignored. Joe Manchin has been mentioned as a possible No Labels candidate but so has RFK Jr. Ok, so the two of them together regardless of who was at the top of the ticket would be a right-wingers hellish “dream ticket”, mainly because of the Kennedy name. It’s a name after all that has evoked a lot of reverence and more importantly loyalty from Democratic voters over the years. However, that magic is if not gone then mostly so. Just look at what happened when once promising and rising star Joe Kennedy got too big for his britches and decided to challenge Senator Markey in the primary. He got his butt handed to him.
RFK Jr. might have that famous last name but he long ago alienated an awful lot of Democrats with his anti-vax crap, continuing to push debunked “science” but his doubling down with COVID pretty much made him personae non grata with even moderate Democrats. Also with a lot of Democratic leaning Independents. What I’m saying is that from where I sit while RFK’s last name might have helped siphon off some of the Democratic senior citizen vote who wistfully recall the old days, and that in some states it wouldn’t take much to tip the balance the odds probably weren’t as good as Bannon and others thought.
Still, he’s the “spoiler” conservatives have banked (literally) on and it’s clear he’s wasting his time even bothering with the Democratic primaries. HE would be the one to get embarrassed so word is he’s decided on a different course and will end his primary challenge in favor of running a third-Party candidacy. From the article:
Mediaite reported Friday that he will declare an independent bid on Oct. 9, and Kennedy is now teasing a major announcement on that date, while saying and doing the kinds of things that suggest Mediaite’s report is accurate.
WaPo goes on to say that despite the family name there’s now reason to believe running an independent/third Party candidacy will wind up hurting Trump more than Biden. The author notes there’s not yet reliable polling on a Kennedy third-Party run there is evidence Republicans like more than Democrats do. And there ARE numbers that indicate that the difference is quite large.
The latest Quinnipiac polling has RFK Jr. with a 30 point favorability margin (48% favorable to 18% unfavorable) while only 14% of Democrats view him favorably vs. 57% who don’t! And that’s right now. I for one can imagine his standing will get any better with Democrats and Independents between now and this time next year as early voting gets underway. The article points out RFK Jr. has never been all that popular with Democrats but back in June he had a net 14 percent negative rating. Now? He’s 43 points underwater! If he runs third-Party, especially Libertarian instead of No Labels ballot access probably won’t be an issue for him. Now, you’re probably saying what I mentioned earlier about it not taking much loss of Democrats (mostly older farts like me) getting seduced by that Kennedy name to tip the scales so here’s the good news.
We’ve also seen that the number of Republican-leaning voters who are dissatisfied with Trump as their nominee rivals the number of Democrats who are dissatisfied with Biden as their option. And these numbers suggest that Kennedy has significantly more appeal to the political right than to the political left.
Granted, even before recent times a year in politics was a lifetime. As Murfster keeps reminding us at this stage polling, even from reputable outfits should be taken with a huge grain of salt. A lot can change between now and next year. Still, there are pretty good indications that defections from Democrats to RFK might not be enough to matter even in some of the states we’re worried about. And that if anything defections from Republicans who don’t want Trump to him might well be significantly more than we will have to deal with.
This my friends is NOT what Bannon and others have counted on with RFK Jr. It really is possible that like Wile E. Coyote Bannon RFK Jr. could be an “ACME” brand Biden “killer” box of explosives that blows up him!