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10.23.2023 0

Kennedy throws race to Trump over Biden in Harvard-Harris poll as inflation, economy continue to dominate as top issues

By Robert Romano

Former President Donald Trump would prevail in a three-way race against President Joe Biden and Robert Kennedy, Jr. running as an independent, according to the latest Harvard-Harris poll taken Oct. 18 to Oct. 19.

Trump leads with 39 percent to Biden’s 33 percent and Kennedy’s 19 percent, and 9 percent unsure. When those who are uncertain are removed from the poll, it becomes Trump with 42 percent, Biden with 36 percent and Kennedy with 22 percent.

With leaners, Trump garners 9 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of independents.

Biden gets 69 percent of Democrats, 5 percent of Republicans and just 28 percent of independents.   

And Kennedy garners 22 percent of Democrats, 15 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of independents.

All told, Biden is losing independents in the three-way race 72 percent to 28 percent. That’s pathetic.

Kennedy, who had been running as a Democrat until recently, has opted to run as an independent, claiming that as an independent, he would pull more from Biden than he does Trump.

But not so in the Harvard-Harris poll.

In a hypothetical two-way race, Biden only improves marginally, still losing to Trump 52 percent to 48 percent with leaners. In that scenario, Trump gets 15 percent of Democrats, 92 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents. And Biden gets 85 percent of Democrats, 8 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents.

That means, without Kennedy in the race, Trump picks up 10 points and Biden picks up 12 points. And even then, Trump is still leading.

As a result, Kennedy still appears to be playing the spoiler role against Biden. Usually, a primary challenge can portend poorly for an incumbent president, including Herbert Hoover in 1932, Harry Truman in 1952, Lyndon Johnson in 1968, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992.

But so can a strong independent bid for president, with Ross Perot playing a potential spoiler role in 1992 against incumbent George H.W. Bush, with Bill Clinton winning the election fairly easily and again in 1996, weakening Republican Bob Dole’s opposition bid.

Adding Cornell West to the mix makes things even worse for Biden and better for Trump, with Trump still garnering 41 percent of the vote, Biden dropping to 34 percent, Kennedy to 21 percent and West garnering 3 percent.

If the Democratic incumbent is losing 14 points of support nationally to independent candidates, that could put a number of blue states into play in 2024, to say nothing of battleground swing states, which suddenly appear to be much easier for Trump than in the traditional two-way race.

Biden’s weakness with 2024 rapidly approaching comes as the economy and consumer inflation continues to weigh on voters, who could be rapidly setting into an “anyone but Biden” mentality. When given more options, Biden’s support drops dramatically.

Overall, inflation remains the top issue with 32 percent, immigration with 27 percent and the economy with 24 percent. And those could be ongoing concerns, with a fresh war in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Ukraine sure to drive up the price of petroleum globally. Light sweet crude is coming in at $87, up from $67 in late June.

For Biden, it’s a matter of confidence and of time, with his only advantage being that time is running out for the American people’s confidence in the President to drop any further than it already has before voters deliver their verdict in Nov. 2024. As usual, stay tuned.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

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