11.28.2023 0

Bankrolled by Silicon Valley and Hollywood, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is Vying for Trump Voters – Will it Work?  

By Manzanita Miller

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Bill Ackman has endorsed Robert Kennedy, Jr. for president. While it is true that Mr. Ackman donated $3,300 to Kennedy’s campaign according to Federal Election Commission, in a recent October 2023 interview with CNBC, he clarified that he gives to multiple candidates: “I do think we would benefit with a broader array of choices on both sides of the aisle here… Which is why I have been supportive of multiple people… Certainly, I like that [Kennedy’s] voice is in the race, for sure… I’ve written him a check.” In fact, according to Federal Election Commission records, Ackman has also donated $3,300 to Chris Christie and $3,300 to Vivek Ramaswamy, in addition to the money he had given to the Kennedy campaign. We apologize for any confusion this caused, and the article has been updated to reflect this.

Since dropping out of the Democratic primaries and launching a third-party campaign bankrolled by Big Tech and Hollywood, environmentalist fanatic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has grown a substantial following, particularly among disaffected swing voters.  

In the third quarter of 2023, Kennedy raised $8.7 million with support from big-name Hollywood celebrities and has been endorsed by Silicon Valley elites including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and venture capitalist David Sacks.

While there is nothing inherently wrong about receiving funding from wealthy donors, it is naïve to assume these individuals have the interests of the middle class close to their hearts. However, these are exactly the voters Kennedy is vying for, and with Biden’s plummeting support among swing voters, Kennedy has a shot at accumulating a significant share of their support.

Biden has lost double digits of support with young people, minorities and Independents compared to 2020 largely due to economic issues. His numbers with non-college whites were never good but have nosedived since 2020 as well.

A recent YouGov poll found young people say their financial situation is likely to be worse if Biden wins again by eight points, Hispanics say so by 26 points, and Independents say their financial situation would be worse under Biden by a disquieting 42 points. This leaves a substantial number of swing voters looking at other options, including Trump – and Kennedy.    

While disaffected Biden voters are a core coalition of Kennedy’s growing base, polls show Kennedy peeling off a substantial share of would-be Trump voters as well. According to a recent New York Times poll across battleground states, Kennedy hurts Trump and Biden nearly evenly. However, he eats significantly into Trump’s margins with three key groups – young people, Independents, and even non-college whites.

In a three-way race, Trump narrowly beats both Biden and R.F.K. Jr., but the margins are paper thin. The Times poll shows Trump earning 35% of the vote, Biden earning 33%, and Kennedy securing 24% of voters across six battleground states.

In these electoral college swing states, Kennedy takes a nearly equal number of voters from Trump and Biden, but slightly more from Trump. Kennedy earns 21% of voters who supported Biden in 2020 but pulls 23% of voters who supported Trump in 2020 according to the poll.  

Kennedy’s margins also rise among groups Trump has been making headway with, specifically young people and Independents. In the three-way race, Kennedy walks away with 34% of voters under 30, more than both Trump (29%) and Biden (30%). However, in a head-to-head matchup between Trump and Biden, Trump earns 40% of young people, an eleven-percentage point increase compared to when Kennedy is on the ballot.

Similarly, Kennedy earns a whopping 39% of Independents in a three-way race, far more than either Trump (25%) or Biden (28%). But in a head-to-head matchup between Trump and Biden, Trump earns 37% of Independents, a twelve-percentage increase compared to when Kennedy is on the ballot.

While Trump still cleans up with white non-college voters with Kennedy on the ballot, his lead does shrink. With Kennedy on the ballot Trump earns 46% of non-college whites while Kennedy earns 24% and Biden earns 23%. However, when Kennedy is not on the ballot and the race is between Trump and Biden, Trump earns 56% of the non-college white vote, a ten-percentage point increase compared to when Kennedy is on the ballot.

Kennedy is still a threat to Americans who want to restore Trump-era peace, strength, and prosperity, and return to a principled and responsive government. Kennedy is vying for economically disenfranchised voters, and that group overlaps primarily with Trump’s base more than Biden’s. Trump is making inroads with young people, minorities, and Independents while expanding his base of middle and lower-class voters who feel Biden has deserted them, but Kennedy is making a play for these voters as well.

As Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning wrote in an October op-ed for Townhall, Kennedy is far from a patriotic advocate for the middle-class. R.F.K. Jr. is a political elitist who spent the bulk of his career advocating for absurdist environmental policy, pushing a radical economic agenda plucked from the playbook of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and handing power to some of the most blatantly destructive globalists in the country.   

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is attempting to remodel himself into a man of the people and sell himself to the middle-class because he is an astute politician and understands which way the winds are blowing. In reality, he is a political extremist being funded by Silicon Valley and Hollywood elites whose primary interests are lining their own pockets, not reinvigorating the middle-class.

With Kennedy eating into Trump’s margins with Independents and young voters, and even peeling off votes with non-college whites, conservatives should not assume Kennedy is a threat only to Joe Biden.     

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

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