Who's voting for Robert Kennedy Jr.?

Below are five charts on support for RFK Jr., what his supporters look like, and how his candidacy might affect 2024

The author(s)
  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Bernard Mendez Data Journalist
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In the 21st century, no third-party presidential candidate has received over 10% of the vote. For the last time a non-Democrat or Republican candidate won an electoral vote, you have to look back to 1968 when segregationist candidate George Wallace carried a small handful of states in the South.

But that doesn’t mean a third-party candidate can’t play spoiler. Given how close the 2024 election is poised to be, a third-party candidate could tip the scales one way or another.

It’s been long documented that many Americans are dissatisfied with the two primary candidates, former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, with a majority of Americans believing that both are too old to hold office. Could independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, play spoiler in 2024?

Below are five charts on support for RFK Jr., what his supporters look like, and how his candidacy might affect 2024.

  1. RFK Jr. could shake up the election. Through polling over the last year, RFK Jr. has pulled a small but consistent minority of Americans. It’s also looking like he’d take voters away from former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden equally. But RFK would only need to take a small dent out of either Biden’s or Trump’s camp to shake things up given how close the election seems now. Can this support hold up through November? Watch this space.
  2. Less eager to vote. RFK is polling well right now. But traditionally, third-party candidates perform better in polls than they do in real life. And among registered voters who say they are certain to vote this November, support for RFK Jr. drops. Still, we don’t know who’s actually going to vote. Know that just because RFK is polling in the teens now doesn’t mean he’ll have the same level of support on Election Day.
  3. Who’s voting RFK? The demographic profile of RFK voters is fairly similar to the average American. There are no significant differences by race, age, or income, though RFK Jr. voters are slightly more likely to be women. Unsurprisingly, they are more likely to identify as an independent rather than a Democrat or Republican.
  4. A little bit of both. On the issues, RFK Jr. is a little all over the place. He previously ran as a Democratic candidate, but at the same time has embraced right-wing conspiracies about the COVID-19 vaccine. His supporters, too, are a bit scattered on the issues. For example, like Republicans, they are more likely to view immigration as a top issue, but like Democrats, are more likely to view climate change and abortion as top issues.
  5. Unsatisfied with their choices. What traits separate RFK voters from the rest of America? Their disdain for both Trump and Biden. This suggests that a vote for RFK isn’t just a vote for RFK – it’s a vote against both Trump and Biden.

There isn’t a single issue or topic that seems to unify RFK voters. More than anything, these are a set of Americans who are dissatisfied with a political system that has fielded the same two candidates for the second straight election.

What remains to be seen, however, is how RFK’s support shifts as we get closer to Election Day. It’ll only take a small shift to tip the scales. Watch this space.  

Updated on March 22, 2024, 5:15 PM ET: An older version of this report said RFK Jr. supports gun control, though his stance on the issue is unclear. That's been removed for accuracy.

The author(s)
  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Bernard Mendez Data Journalist

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