Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Milan
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaking at the No Green Pass protest in Milan, Italy. Photo credit: © Alessandro Bremec/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

What are Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s chances against Joe Biden? In a Republican primary, quite good. Otherwise, it's not worth talking about

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Can Robert F. Kennedy Jr. mount a serious primary challenge against President Joe Biden? That is the question on everybody’s mind following a poll earlier this month showing Kennedy with a very robust favorability rating. And, after crunching the numbers, we have a definitive answer: Yes. If the two competed for the Republican nomination, RFK Jr. would be a formidable opponent for Biden.

Just last night, both Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, two stalwarts of right-wing blowhardiness, raised the possibility that the son of Democratic icon Bobby Kennedy could upset the incumbent president.

They are absolutely correct. In a GOP primary, Kennedy’s high favorability among voters of Donald Trump would probably carry the day for him. That is especially true because Republicans do not like Joe Biden.

A whopping 61 percent of Trump voters have a favorable opinion of Kennedy. That is higher than the favorability ratings of Mike Pence (not surprisingly), Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, and Vivek Whateversmarmy.

As it turns out, only two presidential candidates have a higher favorability score among Republicans than Kennedy — and neither of them is named Joe Biden.

In fact, the president languishes at the bottom of the Republican primary field with a favorability score of five percent — and, let’s face it, the handful of Trump voters who said they liked him were probably drunk, high, or didn’t understand the question.

This is just more evidence that it would be a very bad idea for Biden to enter the GOP primary as he would be an underdog not just against Kennedy but also just about everybody else.

And, in a head-to-head matchup with RFK Jr. for the Republican nomination, Biden would get crushed.

There are two reasons for that: First, there is a multibillion-dollar right-wing propaganda machine that has been painting Biden as a (senile) mastermind intent on destroying the US. Also, he totally committed treason and GOP lawmakers will absolutely provide evidence of that any day now. You just wait!

At the same time, Republican voters are not only accepting of crackpot theories like those Kennedy offers seemingly every day, they like them.

While we get the anti-vax stuff from other GOP candidates as well, RFK Jr. has some strongly held views on a variety of other issues, such as saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has acted in “good faith” in his efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

Another thing that would work against Biden in a Republican primary against Kennedy is that some prominent right-wing figures, such as Trump himself, Tucker Carlson, and Twitter owner Elon Musk, really seem to like RFK Jr., and that the feeling is mutual.

In a fight for the Republican presidential nomination, all of these factors would be really bad for Biden.

Therefore, the most important thing the president has to do to prevent an embarrassing defeat is to check “Democrat” on any form asking him which party’s nomination he is seeking.

As long as he does that, he’ll be totally fine because Democratic voters don’t like RFK Jr. nearly as much as Republicans, and all of that palling around with right-wing figures isn’t going to help him in a Democratic primary.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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