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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

RFK Jr. Might Be Hurting Trump

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrongA leading anti-vaxxer is presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  He has repeatedly compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.  Rolling Stone and Salon retracted an RFK article linking vaccines to autism.

He is now running for president as an independent.  A big question in the campaign is whether he will draw Democratic votes from Biden (because his name is Kennedy) or draw Republican votes from Trump (because he is an antivaxxer).

Lisa Kashinsky et al. at Politico:
Republicans are waking up to the reality that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could sink their standard-bearer just as easily as he could hurt President Joe Biden, after a pair of new polls showed the presence of third-party candidates on the ballot might not necessarily benefit former President Donald Trump.

In two polls released so far this week, from NBC News and Marist College, Biden actually gained relative to Trump in matchups featuring Kennedy and other third-party candidates, though the differences were well within the margins of error in each survey and represented a break from previous polling.

In the NBC News poll, a negligible 2-point Trump lead in a head-to-head matchup became a 2-point Biden advantage when Kennedy, Cornel West and Jill Stein were added as options. That’s because 15 percent of respondents who picked Trump against Biden defected to Kennedy in the five-way matchup, compared to 7 percent of those who chose Biden initially.

The Marist poll showed Kennedy winning equal shares of respondents who reported voting for Biden (12 percent) and Trump (12 percent) in 2020, and roughly the same percentages of self-identified Democrats (8 percent) and Republicans (10 percent) — mostly in line with other polls that show Kennedy drawing evenly from both major-party candidates.

The overlap in potential support for Trump and Kennedy is evident in more than just policy. Of the $22.7 million that Kennedy’s campaign has reported raising from donors giving at least $200 — the threshold at which the Federal Election Committee requires campaigns to itemize donations — since his launch last summer, nearly $1.6 million comes from more than 1,700 donors who gave to Trump’s campaign during the 2020 cycle, according to a POLITICO analysis.

By contrast, Kennedy has raised only $850,000 from about 980 donors with a record of giving to Biden’s 2020 campaign. Both totals represent a small overall share of Kennedy’s fundraising. But they are one data point suggesting his appeal may be stronger among those once interested in Trump.