Can Robert Kennedy Jr. Turn Media Attention into Public Support?

Robert Kennedy Jr’s campaign to challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for President has earned its fair share of media attention. Can Kennedy turn this attention into votes?


Robert Kennedy Jr’s campaign to challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for President has earned its fair share of media attention. Can Kennedy turn this attention into votes?

  • Kennedy is campaigning in the early primary states. An environmental lawyer and son of the late Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Kennedy has made censorship, vaccine skepticism, and a distrust in public health authorities post-Covid key components of his campaign platform.
  • Kennedy’s eccentric or conspiratorial views – that there’s a link between childhood vaccinations and autism, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Wi-fi exposure could cause cancer, that the Central Intelligence Agency assassinated his uncle President John F. Kennedy – have not slowed his small rise in primary polls in the early voting states.
  • Robert Kennedy has also sat down for interviews on prominent podcasts, including a 3-hour conversation with Joe Rogan and a 90-minute interview with Bari Weiss for her podcast “Honestly.”
  • Kennedy declined to commit to support Biden should the President win renomination at a NewsNation town hall on Wednesday. “I don’t know what I’ll do,” Kennedy told host Elizabeth Vargas. “Let’s see what happens in this campaign.”
  • When Vargas asked Kennedy about his opinion of former President Donald Trump, the Democratic presidential candidate refused to criticize the Republican frontrunner. “I’m proud that President Trump likes me,” Kennedy said.
  • Kennedy outlined his foreign policy views at the same forum. The Democratic candidate believes the way the Biden administration has conducted itself during the war in Ukraine “is terrible for the Ukrainian people.”
  • He claimed the US “neglected many, many opportunities to settle this war peacefully” and had turned Ukraine into “a pawn in a proxy war between Russia and the United States.”
  • Kennedy’s media appearances haven’t yet contributed to a significant gain in his poll numbers as he trails Biden by substantial margins in every poll conducted so far.
  • For example, a Quinnipiac University poll from June 22-26 found Biden leading in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary with 71% support and Kennedy trailing with 17% ahead of self-help author Marianne Williamson with 5% of the vote.
  • In New Hampshire, Biden is registering 68% support among Democratic primary voters in the latest St. Anselm College poll, with Kennedy and Williamson trailing with 9% and 8% of the vote, respectively.
  • However, Kennedy is polling better against Biden than any of Trump’s 2020 challengers ever did, even though Trump’s challengers – former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and ex-Rep. Joe Walsh – were better credentialed on paper than Kennedy. Neither Weld nor Walsh ever polled above 5% in a national poll of Republican voters.
  • Additionally, Biden’s share of the primary vote is lower than Trump’s share ever dipped in the 2020 Republican primary. In the RealClearPolitics polling average of the 2020 GOP presidential primary, Trump had 89.3% support and never polled lower than 80% in any single poll.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast tried to answer the question, “What’s with RFK Jr.’s double-digit polling?” The FiveThirtyEight team discussed RFK Jr’s “relatively strong” numbers, and came up with a few theories – media attention, Kennedy name brand, general discontent with Biden, the advantage of being the only real challenger – to explain his rise.
  • The Washington Post’s Philip Bump highlighted the three most recent polls from YouGov, one of the only top pollsters to survey the 2020 Democratic primary since April. Their results don’t show a Kennedy surge – in fact, the field has been remarkable stable. In their surveys, Biden polled between 62%-67%, Kennedy between 8%-12%, and Williamson between 4%-6%.
  • The New York Times published two editorials about RFK Jr. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat urged vaccine defenders like Peter Hotez to follow through and debate RFK Jr. and defend their ideas. Liberal columnist Gail Collins conceded that RFK JR. “earned his high profile” and celebrated him for deciding to run as a Democrat and not as an independent or third-party candidate.



  • Breitbart noted both Biden and Kennedy spoke in Chicago on Wednesday. Biden delivered a speech on “Bidenomics,” his new slogan to argue the economy has improved on his watch. Kennedy sat down for his NewNation town hall several hours later.
  • National Review’s Jim Geraghty argued Kennedy should consider running as an independent, given his status as “a self-described Democrat who mostly appeals to people who aren’t Democrats.” Geraghty argued Kennedy could have far more influence if he runs in a general election and pulls in millions of votes, compared to finishing as a “footnote” in the Democratic primary.
  • Two of the hosts of the Fifth Column podcast, Michael Moynihan and Kmele Foster, held “an RFK Intervention” for Coleman Hughes, who is starting to buy what Kennedy is selling. Moynihan and Foster listened to Hughes’ concerns while trying to persuade him that the “Kult of Kennedy” was not the answer.


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© Dominic Moore, 2023

1 comments On Can Robert Kennedy Jr. Turn Media Attention into Public Support?

  • Biden needs to go his tenure as president has been detrimental for the USA. Dependence of foreign oil shutting our oil lines down money to Ukraine in which I feel is a money laundering war at most my opinion to all the pride . movement uncalled for a month to celebrate nastiness chanting WE’RE HERE WERE QUEER AND COMING AFTER YOUR CHILDREN…
    Those are threats . Trying
    makes us Socialist country ask someone who has come here because of it in there own country is why they come here .

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