The Kennedy Marketing campaign’s Issues Are Piling Up

Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Announces His Running Mate

A moneybags veep candidate with baggage.
Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Pictures

It’s too early to know if Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s unbiased presidential candidacy will finally symbolize a small and forgettable car for disgruntled cranks or be a big issue within the election’s consequence. To offer him his due, RFK Jr. is certainly one of simply 4 unbiased candidates in residing reminiscence (the others being George Wallace, John Anderson, and Ross Perot) to have registered as a lot as 10 % in general-election polls. The place his assist comes from is a daily and main concern for the Joe Biden and Donald Trump campaigns.

However the issues the Kennedy camp is at present encountering are starting so as to add up and even snowball. Right here’s a rundown of the various points he faces.

Like different unbiased and minor-party candidates, Kennedy has to spend most of his cash and far of his time merely making an attempt to get onto general-election ballots by navigating a extensively various and sometimes complicated panorama of state election legal guidelines. His marketing campaign claims it has met the necessities for poll entry in 15 states. However up to now, based on the Boston Globe, solely 5 states (Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Delaware, and Hawaii) have licensed RFK Jr. as a general-election presidential candidate; amongst them, solely Michigan is a battleground state. Crew Kennedy is assured about finally getting onto the poll in every single place, as Perot did in 1992 and 1996 (albeit after the billionaire spent an enormous chunk of cash for it). However now, poll entry has a brand new sense of urgency because of a second drawback.

Getting onto the controversy stage with major-party candidates is a little bit of an awesome white whale for unbiased presidential aspirants, conferring desperately wanted legitimacy and unequaled (and free) media consideration. In 1992, debate entry helped make Perot essentially the most profitable non-major-party presidential candidate since Teddy Roosevelt (at the least within the nationwide fashionable vote).

The sudden settlement of the Biden and Trump campaigns on an unusually early debate (in Atlanta on June 27, sponsored by CNN) was designed to create a one-on-one contest excluding RFK Jr. However CNN’s precise standards for inclusion provide a glimmer of hope for Kennedy:

Candidates should … seem on a enough variety of state ballots to succeed in the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency and obtain at the least 15% in 4 separate nationwide polls of registered or seemingly voters that meet CNN’s requirements for reporting. Polls that meet these requirements are these sponsored by CNN, ABC Information, CBS Information, Fox Information, Marquette College Regulation Faculty, Monmouth College, NBC Information, The New York Occasions/Siena School, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist School, Quinnipiac College, The Wall Avenue Journal and The Washington Submit.

Kennedy has reached the 15 % threshold in three of the qualifying polls, and he could hit 4 by the point the controversy subject is about on June 20. His greater drawback includes certifying poll entry in states that management a majority of the electoral school. Even should you purchase his marketing campaign’s doubtful rely of states the place he has made the grade, they add as much as solely 207 electoral votes. Kennedy is already making the argument that “presumptive” nominees Biden and Trump can’t qualify both, at the least earlier than their nationwide get together conventions, however no person’s going to purchase that one. Extra seemingly, this implies Crew RFK Jr. should put the pedal to the metallic to get poll entry in additional states as shortly as doable.

Maybe that received’t be an issue for the Kennedy marketing campaign with the second deliberate debate, scheduled for September. However it could nonetheless want to fulfill a tricky polling requirement, which results in a 3rd drawback.

Crew RFK Jr. received some dangerous information on Might 22 when Quinnipiac, one of many two retailers that had given the candidate CNN-debate-qualifying ballot numbers, got here out with a new nationwide survey displaying him slipping beneath the required threshold, at 14 %. However the a lot greater drawback is the chance (primarily based on all of the historic precedents) that his stage of assist will steadily decline as the overall election approaches. Already he has seen a sluggish deterioration of his standing within the RCP nationwide polling averages from 13 % within the first quarter of 2024 to 10 % now. A brand new battery of battleground-state polls from Bloomberg–Morning Seek the advice of reported a noteworthy discount in assist for Kennedy. He’s additionally usually doing extra poorly within the few credible polls already screening for chance to vote (e.g., a brand new Marquette Regulation Faculty ballot displaying him dropping a 3rd of his assist when a likely-voter display screen is utilized), reflecting his disproportionate energy amongst low-propensity voters. To quote one very noticeable instance, an April nationwide likely-voter survey from NY Occasions–Siena gave Kennedy simply 2 % of the vote. These traits bear watching.

For essentially the most half, polls have proven Kennedy drawing assist roughly equally from Biden and Trump. If that had been to alter, the major-party candidate being negatively affected would nearly actually come after the unbiased with a claw hammer (each the Biden and Trump campaigns have already been exploring Kennedy’s vulnerabilities in public feedback). Actually, they each would possibly achieve this anyway in hopes of depicting RFK Jr. as undesirable to their very own supporters but extremely fascinating to their opponent’s backers. The Biden marketing campaign specifically has the sources for some soul-crushing unfavorable adverts if it chooses to go in that path. And Kennedy’s most important supply of cash to counter such malevolent consideration comes along with her personal set of points.

In selecting little-known patent lawyer and tech entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan as his working mate, Kennedy secured some huge cash (she grew to become very rich after a divorce settlement with Google co-founder Sergey Brin and had already been generously serving to the RFK Jr. marketing campaign). However this comes with a number of baggage. Other than her lack of expertise in politics and within the public eye, the media scrutiny of Shanahan as a doable vice-president has begun, and if a brand new profile from the New York Occasions is any indication, it may turn out to be a serious distraction for the Kennedy marketing campaign:

In 2011, Ms. Shanahan started courting [Jeremy] Kranz, a tech investor in San Francisco. She advised those who she had transformed to Judaism throughout that point for the connection …

That July, Ms. Shanahan met Mr. Brin at a yoga competition in Lake Tahoe, Calif., 4 individuals with information of the occasions mentioned. He had not too long ago separated from Anne Wojcicki, his spouse on the time. Mr. Brin and Ms. Shanahan launched into an affair weeks earlier than her wedding ceremony to Mr. Kranz, the individuals mentioned.

Mr. Kranz found the connection a number of days after he married Ms. Shanahan when he noticed texts between her and Mr. Brin on her telephone, they mentioned. He filed to annul the wedding 27 days after the marriage, courtroom information present.

Her subsequent marriage to Brin ended, the Occasions stories, when Shanahan allegedly knowledgeable him of a sexual encounter (which she now denies ever occurred) with none apart from Elon Musk.

Shanahan may use some higher title ID however not of this nature.

Shanahan can also be concerned in what appears like an enormous dispute inside the Kennedy marketing campaign over a serious 2024 election subject: abortion coverage. Once more, the New York Occasions has the story:

A key adviser to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is stepping away from his presidential marketing campaign, citing an “more and more hateful and divisive environment” that “now not aligns with my values.”

Angela Stanton King, the marketing campaign’s adviser for Black engagement, introduced her departure in a press release on social media on Tuesday night, 5 months after she was added to the marketing campaign’s payroll.

Stanton King was a former Trump supporter and QAnon fan whom the forty fifth president pardoned for a 2007 car-theft conviction. However extra to the purpose, she’s an anti-abortion activist apparently aligned with Shanahan however not essentially Kennedy on this subject, says the Occasions:

The Kennedy crew has been waging an inside battle over the marketing campaign’s abortion platform. Mr. Kennedy had beforehand mentioned that he wouldn’t assist authorities restrictions on abortion care, however reversed himself this month after a public strain marketing campaign from Ms. Shanahan and Ms. Stanton King, who’s an anti-abortion activist and advocate for legal justice reform.

What a multitude.

All in all, it’s doable the Kennedy for President marketing campaign has already peaked.

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