LOVE HIM OR HATE HIM, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is becoming a serious factor in next year’s presidential campaign. He has little chance of winning but could determine the winner.
KENNEDY IS ENORMOUSLY CONTROVERSIAL because of his views on vaccinations and conspiracies. He’s detested by most members of his famous family, who have urged voters to reject him. But he’s anti-establishment in this anti-government era.
KENNEDY’S POLLING NUMBERS have held up for several months; he’s at 22% percent in a new nationwide poll by Quinnipiac University that has Joe Biden at 39% and Donald Trump at 36%. Ominously for Biden, Kennedy has a plurality of independents — 36% chose him, compared with 33% for Trump and 30% for Biden.
PERHAPS THE MOST TROUBLING FINDING FOR Democrats in the new poll showed that Kennedy is the leading choice for young voters, aged 18-34 — 38% chose him. From the same age group, 32% picked Biden and 27% went for Trump.
THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, which is often wrong, is that Kennedy will wilt as his very controversial views become better known. But he hasn’t wilted yet, and has a chance to win a state or two in the general election.
HIS OPPONENTS SAY KENNEDY WILL FADE after early debates, but he’s a ferocious debater, unshakeable in his belief that vaccines are unsafe and are a government intrusion into people’s lives. He’s a traditional anti-business liberal on other issues.
WILL KENNEDY HURT BIDEN MORE THAN TRUMP? We look at the likely voting demographics and have to conclude that Biden is on thin ice among young voters, environmentalists, African-Americans and others. Biden may win those groups, but by margins below those won by Democrats in recent elections. This is a major reason why Trump has a chance of winning.
MIKE JOHNSON’S TEST: The new House Speaker has met with Senate leaders, Democrats and Republicans, assuring them that he will support a bill funding aid to Ukraine, but he wants an Israeli package first, along with spending cuts. This could lead to a bitter fight between the hawkish Senate and a handful of House isolationists.
DOES JOHNSON HAVE THE NUMBERS in the House? He soon may realize that even an arch-conservative like him could face defeat from his right wing. Johnson wants a budget deal that would “kick the can” down the road, until winter. But many of his own House colleagues oppose still another extension.
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