Biden trails Trump in poll showing RFK Jr winning one in six voters

Double-digit support for RFK Jr registered by poll as Biden lags far behind Trump

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 28 April 2024 21:53 BST
Biden jabs back at jokes about his age during White House dinner

A new poll shows Joe Biden trailing Donald Trump by his most significant margin yet while a third-party candidate achieves double-digit levels of support for the second time.

The survey, a CNN poll released on Sunday, has the incumbent president down by nine percentage points to Donald Trump, while a smattering of third-party candidates combine for more than 20 per cent of the vote. Those candidates include Robert F Kennedy Jr at 16 per cent, Dr Cornel West at four per cent, and Dr Jill Stein at 3 per cent.

Mr Trump sits at 42 per cent to Mr Biden’s 33 per cent in the survey. It’s a frustrating dynamic for the Democratic president given that some polling has indicated that the Kennedy family pariah may even be drawing more voters away from his opponent than from Mr Biden’s camp.

Dr West and Dr Stein’s candidacies, both appealing directly to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and greater left, likely reflect the growing dissatisfaction the president faces among his own voting base as he continues to face criticism for his support for Israel amid the war in Gaza.

That fact was highlighted by the support for Mr Biden’s handling of the war among voters ages 18-34, who disapprove of the president’s performance by 81 per cent to 19 per cent on that issue. Among all Democrats, he’s still underwater on the issue of Israel/Gaza: 46 per cent to 53 per cent.

Also of note: Mr Kennedy’s prospects have remained unchanged from where they were in the same CNN poll published last fall. That goes the same for Dr West’s; the main change appears to be the inclusion of Dr Jill Stein in the latest polling, which shows Mr Biden down two percentage points from that previous survey back in November.

There’s also one very clear warning sign for Donald Trump, Mr Biden’s two-time Republican opponent. According to polling, just about 35 per cent of all voters nationwide believe that Mr Biden “stole” or otherwise unfairly won the 2020 presidential election. If that percentage sounds familiar, it’s because it’s roughly the size of the Republican primary electorate, which includes some independents and roughly 29 per cent of all registered voters in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.

The meaning of that result is simple: Donald Trump’s lies and conspiracies about his past election defeat are convincing to Republican primary voters and very few others. A focus, however small, on his past slights in the 2024 race is likely to only excite his base while alienating independent voters.

The hopeful outlook for the incumbent president in the poll remains the fact that third-party voters typically do not perform well, electorally speaking, in actual voting. The Biden campaign may be hoping that the realities of the election, combined with Americans wanting to have a consequential vote, will jolt sceptical voters back into his camp. Even so, the president clearly faces a lack of enthusiasm as he seeks re-election in an unprecedented year.

Voters in the survey were not asked about Mr Trump’s ongoing criminal trials or the effect that a conviction in any of the 88 felony counts he faces would have on their ballot in November.

The CNN poll was conducted between 18-23 April 2024 with a national sample of 1,212 registered voters. The survey’s margin of sampling error is 3.4 percentage points.

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