ICYMI: RFK Jr.’s “Floundering” Campaign 

New columns from The New Republic, The Daily Beast, and MSNBC highlight how RFK Jr.’s campaign is “floundering.” Reporting shows that – in addition to failing to meet CNN’s debate criteria – RFK Jr. is tanking in the polls and hemorrhaging cash. With a lack of grassroots support and no clear path to victory, his spoiler campaign is facing what one author called a “simple, insurmountable political problem” – the more voters see him, the less appeal he has. 

The Daily Beast: This Was the Week When the RFK Jr. Fantasy Went Bust

By: Matt Lewis 

  • The brain-wormed independent candidate with the famous last name failed to make the debate stage, and his popularity seems to have peaked.
  • As we hurtle toward the first 2024 presidential debate on Thursday, it’s worth asking: What the hell happened to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.?
  • Most recently, Kennedy failed to qualify for the CNN debate, a development that could prove devastating and dispositive.
  • But the more that people learned about RFK, Jr and his kooky ideas, the less they liked him. At least, increased exposure certainly has not boosted his popularity in the polls.
  • When it comes to appearing on state ballots, Kennedy is technically less than one-third of the way there; but this point deserves an asterisk. Officials in multiple states told The Washington Post that “…while Kennedy has either submitted petitions or been nominated by a minor party with ballot access, their certification process is not yet complete.”
  • The snarky bottom line? RFK, Jr, might be certifiable—but he’s not certified on enough ballots to be a serious contender in this election.

The New Republic: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Is Lucky He Didn’t Qualify for the CNN Debate

By: Alex Shephard

  • The independent presidential candidate is running on fumes. More exposure would only kill his campaign faster.
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign is not going well. At all. That may, in fact, be an understatement. He has been steadily declining in the polls for months and now sits at around 7 percent, down from nearly 20 percent in the fall. It’s possible, meanwhile, that many of his biggest fans may not even get the chance to vote for him—he currently only has enough signatures to appear on the ballot in just nine states. And he’s hemorrhaging cash. If not for his vice president—an unknown tech billionaire who may have been selected because her immense wealth has allowed her to fund their political operations—his campaign might very well be flat broke. It raised a paltry $2.6 million in May, suggesting that no one really wants to give him money.  Kennedy is, in other words, spending millions to be on the ballot in a handful of states and is only getting less popular in the process.
  • The biggest problem with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign is that voters do not like him. That’s not an overstatement. Last October, his favorability rating, per 538’s average, was plus eight points; he was, around the same period, regularly polling in the 15–20 percent range. His favorability rating today is minus nine points; he has been polling in the high single digits for months.
  • Voters have subsequently gotten to know Kennedy Jr., and it is abundantly clear that they do not like what they see. His support has steadily declined since the race actually began and voters started to actually consider who they wanted to vote for.
  • Kennedy Jr.’s platform is a mishmash of ideas that hints at another big problem with his campaign: It is the deranged marriage of consultant-driven nonsense on one hand and the candidate’s own conspiracy-addled bullshit on the other.
  • Despite his famous name, Kennedy Jr. is also a shockingly unpolished and uncharismatic presence. He’s prone to rambling on the stump and has a stodgy mien that’s hardly inviting—particularly given his tendency to get lost in the feverswamps. (I attended a press event with the candidate that was maybe the single most embarrassing political event I have ever attended—and I’ve been to several Trump rallies…).
  • Kennedy Jr.’s campaign is struggling with a simple, insurmountable political problem: Exposure is very bad for it and for him.

MSNBC: RFK Jr. is floundering

By: Zeeshan Aleem

  • Independent presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. failed to qualify for the first presidential debate, which will be hosted by CNN next week. It’s the latest sign that Kennedy’s campaign is floundering.
  • But even setting aside Kennedy’s debate woes, things haven’t been going particularly well for him. He has also been struggling with fundraising: In May, his campaign spent 2 1/2 times what it raised, according to Politico. May also marked the second consecutive month in which Kennedy failed to raise more than $900,000 from donors giving less than $200, suggesting that grassroots interest in him is waning. Kennedy has relied heavily on his running mate, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan, to pump millions of dollars into the operation to keep it chugging as it scrambles to win ballot access in enough states and gin up national interest.
  • Kennedy may have also been hurt by reports in May that he had said in a 2012 deposition that a worm ate part of his brain. The spread of that news corresponds with when Americans shifted from having a net favorable view of him to a net unfavorable view of him.
  • Kennedy doesn’t seem attuned to or interested in positioning himself as a candidate of mass appeal…a candidate most known for fringe views will remain a fringe candidate. That in turn raises the question of why he feels that his movement is best served by a general election presidential bid.