by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democrats are again worrying over a third-party presidential campaign, this one from a member of their own party.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was never welcomed by the Democratic camp, yet his pending switch from a Democratic to an independent presidential campaign could cause another headache for President Joe Biden.
A campaign staffer told Mediaite that Kennedy’s campaign will announce a party affiliation switch on Oct. 9 in Philadelphia. Kennedy’s team will begin launching “attack ads” against the Democratic National Committee ahead of his announcement, escalating the fight between the candidate and the organization.
Democrats are generally weary of third-party campaigns due to the belief that they’re likely to pull more support from a Democratic candidate than a Republican one. As such, the DNC is similarly concerned about a Green Party bid from Cornel West and the possibility of a campaign from No Labels.
That concern may be warranted. American Enterprise Institute senior fellow John Fortier previously told the Washington Examiner that despite talk about disaffected “Never Trump” Republicans who might back an independent candidate, such voters are rare apart from highly educated circles inside the Beltway.
“The people more likely to switch [to a third party] are less well educated, less interested in politics, not these upscale, socially liberal and fiscally conservative people,” he said.
Regarding Kennedy specifically, Fortier says it’s hard to predict which major party candidate would come out ahead.
“On the one hand, he is a Democrat with a famous name,” Fortier said. “But he is clearly of more interest today to voters on the right. But in this case, it is not clear that Republican-leaning voters who like RFK Jr. might not also like Trump at least as well, and would not want to throw away a Trump vote.”