A new poll – the first since Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced his campaign as an independent candidate last week – has found President Joe Biden beating Donald Trump and his former party colleague in a three-way race for the White House.
In a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released on Wednesday, President Biden amassed support from 44% of respondents, seven points ahead of Republican frontrunner Trump (37%). Kennedy Jr. was the first choice for one-sixth of respondents (16%) – a figure, which if maintained, will see him qualify for next year’s presidential debates – while 3% of respondents said they were undecided.
However, the results narrowed when RFK Jr.’s independent campaign was excluded from the question.
Donald Trump Still Losing
When voters were told to choose between former president Trump and incumbent Biden, the latter’s lead over his Republican adversary narrowed to 3%. 49% backed the Democrat, while 46% opted for Trump. The remaining 5% were undecided.
As ever, partisanship remained strong in the poll, with both Trump and Biden receiving support from 91% of their respective parties in a two-way race. Both also received 6% support from the opposite party, perhaps dampening Democratic concerns over Biden’s lack of popularity among blue voters.
The Republican frontrunner also beat the President in a two-way race among independents. 49% backed Trump, while 43% of independents expressed support for Biden.
However, when Kennedy Jr. was factored into the race, Trump’s standing took a hit. RFK Jr. was very popular among non-partisan voters, with nearly a third (29%) saying they’d vote for him in a hypothetical presidential election. He was backed by around one-tenth each of Democrats (9%) and Republicans (11%).
Biden’s independent backing also dropped with his former party colleague factored in. Support for the President dropped nine points to 33%, but Trump saw the larger fall with a 15% drop to 34%. Biden’s Democratic support dropped five points to 86%, while a tenth of GOP voters left Trump (81%) for the independent candidate.
Concerns over Kennedy Jr.’s run as an independent have been mounting among figures in both parties. A poll released last week by the Telegraph suggested the Democrats would be hurt more than the GOP with RFK Jr. factored in, but the latest findings suggest it may actually be frontrunner Trump who’s hit hardest in 2024.
“Although it’s always tricky to assess the impact of a third-party candidate, right now Kennedy alters the equation in Biden’s favor,” said Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “What this does speak to, however, is that about one in six voters are looking for another option, especially independents.”
The poll was conducted on Oct. 11 through phone, text or online interviews of 1,313 U.S. adults, including 1,218 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.