The exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll reveals that 14% of voters who supported President Joe Biden in 2020 favor Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in his unexpected candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, which he announces on Wednesday.
That’s odd for someone with a well-known political name who’s become best known for promoting a false belief that vaccines cause autism in children. From Saturday through Tuesday, 67% of those who indicated they would vote for Biden in 2020 also said they would back him for the Democratic candidacy.
At 14%, Kennedy is ahead of self-help author Marianne Williamson, who ran for the nomination but was ultimately dismissed as a “quixotic” contender. An other 13% had not made up their minds. Landline and mobile interviews were conducted with 600 likely Biden voters in 2020, 2021, and 2022. The poll could be off by as much as 4% either way.
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Although no such contender has arisen for the Democratic nomination as of yet, the results highlight Biden’s possible vulnerability to a more mainstream rival or a third-party candidate in the general election.
“In 2020, Joe Biden received more votes than any other president in U.S. history, yet the poll tells us that those same voters are open to other Democrats to wage a spirited primary,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
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“Kennedy, although a long shot at this point, starts in double digits and can’t be ignored.” Kennedy won the support of 33% of Biden voters who disapprove of his job performance as president, and 35% of those who believe his policies in the White House had been “too liberal.”
Voters who were classified as conservatives, those under the age of 30, and those without a four-year degree were the most likely to support the challenger. He is the son of the late Democratic presidential nominee Robert F. Kennedy Sr. and the nephew of former president John F. Kennedy.
He practiced environmental law but gained notoriety as an advocate for the now-debunked belief that vaccines cause autism. Kennedy, 69, amassed a social media following during the COVID-19 epidemic by arguing that vaccine mandates violated people‘s rights and spreading false information about the safety of the vaccine.
At times, his opinions have put him in line with those of former president Donald Trump and his followers. Trump approached Kennedy about leading an advisory council on vaccine safety in 2017.
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