05.05.2023 0

Here are the Groups Biden is Most at Risk of Losing to Robert F Kennedy or Other Primary Challengers

By Manzanita Miller

Since President Joe Biden announced his reelection campaign for president, political dynasty Robert F Kennedy Jr. and former 2020 Democratic primary contender Marianne Williamson have risen in the polls, largely due to the fact that most Americans don’t want to see a Biden second term.

While Biden’s numbers are down with Democrats and leaners across the board, there are four key groups with which he polls particularly badly. These groups could jeopardize his reelection prospects if they break for a Democratic primary challenger and refuse to return and support him in the general election.

Independents, young people, women, and white-non-college Democrats are the constituencies Biden is most at risk of losing, and it is no surprise that newcomers Robert F Kennedy Jr. and self-help author Marianne Williamson are picking up support from these cohorts.

According to a recent Emerson College poll, Kennedy is now polling at 21%, while Williamson polls at 9%. Kennedy’s performance in the poll is notable, with 17.1% of Democrats and an impressive 33.7% of Independents giving their support.

Just a month ago, Kennedy was polling at 10% and Williamson was polling at 4% according to a Morning Consult poll, indicating both challengers have doubled their positions recently.  

Overall, Kennedy polls best with women, voters over age 65, and non-college educated Democrats, while Williamson gains her largest support from women, younger voters, and college-educated Democrats.

In the Morning Consult poll, which was conducted when support for Kennedy was only at about 10% nationwide instead of the current 21%, 13% of women compared to 7% of men said they’d support Kennedy as a primary challenger.

Source: Morning Consult

For voters over age 65, 17% said they’d support Kennedy compared to roughly 9% for all younger groups, and 12% of non-college Democrats said they’d support Kennedy compared to 10% of college-graduates. This indicates Kennedy has more of an edge with working class voters and older voters who may remember the legacy of John F Kennedy fondly, as well as Democratic women who are less reluctant to support Biden than Democratic men are.

In fact, it is interesting just how far Biden’s numbers have fallen with Democratic women compared to men. There is a nearly twenty-percentage point difference between the share of men who say they’d support Biden in the primaries (78%) compared to the share of women who say the same thing (61%).

Former long-shot 2020 Democratic primary challenger Marianne Williamson who recently announced she will once again challenge Biden polled at 9% in the recent Emerson College poll, up from about 4% in March. Like Kennedy, Williamson polls better with Democratic women than she does men, but she has much stronger appeal with younger Democrats than older groups, and polls slightly better with college-educated Democrats.  

In the Morning Consult poll, Williamson polls at 4% with women compared to almost zero with men, and slightly better with voters aged 18-34, garnering 7% of their vote compared to roughly 4% for older age groups. Williamson also polls better with college-grads, securing 5% of their vote compared to 0% for non-college grads. She also polls better with whites than Blacks.

Neither poll broke out Hispanics separately, but if Biden’s favorability in the polls is any indicator, they may be open to a new challenger. Minorities show weak support for Biden, with almost half of Hispanics (48%) and nearly a quarter of Blacks (24%) disapproving of his job performance, according to an April Fox News poll. A March Quinnipiac poll also found just 19% of Hispanics approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while a full 70% disapprove. Minorities may not yet be embracing Biden’s challengers at quite the same rate as white Democrats seem to be, but this could change.

Women, Independents, young people, and working-class whites are all groups Biden is currently at risk of losing, and with the entry of intriguing – if long-shot – hopefuls like Kennedy and Williamson, an increasing share of Democrats and leaners are moving away from Biden. Now, it is very unlikely either of these non-conventional primary challengers will secure the resources and backing of the Democratic Establishment to seriously present a challenge to Biden, but the momentum behind them certainly isn’t helping him.  If shares of these voters end up supporting Kennedy, Williamson, or another serious contender in the primaries, there is no guarantee they will consolidate their support behind Biden in the general election if he is forced on them by the establishment.

The Biden Administration’s lack of action to address the rising cost of living, unjust vaccine mandates, closure of wide sections of the U.S. economy, and mishandling of the war in Ukraine, are all issues that hit hard at core Democratic constituencies, including anti-war coalitions, women, young people, and the working class. These groups are hungry for change, and they may end up consolidating support behind a long-shot candidate in the primaries and sitting out or defecting to a more populist candidate in the general election.

Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation. 

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