A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist national poll shows Biden seven points ahead of Trump in a hypothetical 2024 race that includes third-party candidate RFK, Jr. Voters had differing opinions on the poll’s implications.
Note: Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
The Poll in Question
The national poll consisted of 1,313 adults surveyed on October 11th via a phone call, text, or online survey. It revealed that RFK Jr’s presence in the race gave Biden a significant lead by pulling more votes from Trump.
The Plan Backfired
Because RFK Jr. originally campaigned as a Democrat, many believed his independent run would pull from Biden’s numbers. “The funny thing is I’m pretty sure RFK was running to take away Biden’s votes. It’s just backfiring,” one person noted.
Many pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic changed many Republicans’ stance on vaccines. RFK, Jr. is well known for his vaccine skepticism, which may have pushed more right-wing voters toward him.
Come Home To Roost
Others thought the poll presented an unlikely scenario. “Third-party candidates always look more viable a year out,” one commenter said. “Most voters (including supposed ‘independents’) come home to either the Dems or GOP by election time.”
“When is the last time a third-party candidate polled this high, though?” Another asked in response. “Ross Perot? He definitely had an influence on the final elections, even though the actual vote totals were smaller than the polls.”
Gives It To Biden
Many commenters agreed that RFK Jr’s impact on the 2024 election would be real. “RFK is that ‘not Trump, not Biden’ option,” one person said, noting that a significant number of voters have voiced their distaste for either candidate.
A few thought that Trump’s legal battles would change the tides, either pushing Biden further ahead or rallying Trump’s base. “We’re still too far out,” one commenter noted. “We’re still pre-Trump conviction.”
Not Enough Time
However, several people pointed out that convicting Trump is going to take time. “Let’s be real, we’ll still be pre-conviction on election day,” said one person. “We’ll still have the steady trickle of damaging headlines, but I’d be amazed if any of the trials have started in a year’s time.”
Need A New Candidate
Some voters thought that a 7-point lead wasn’t enough to secure a win for Biden, and they blamed the Democratic party. “If the Democrats put out a non-geriatric candidate with average charisma, they would probably have a 10-point lead and I’d feel better about this whole thing,” one person noted.
Trump Will Pull Ahead
“All of right-wing media has been fawning over Kennedy for the last year when it was in their interest,” one person said. “Once the machine really starts to turn on him, that support will evaporate.” Many seconded the idea that Trump’s support would continue to grow as Kennedy’s faded.
Not a Concern
Still, others thought Trump wouldn’t even manage to win his primary. “When are dems gonna stop using Trump as a hypothetical opponent? He’s not going to be in the race,” one person stated. “It’s going to be Joe Biden vs Nikki Haley, so all need to buckle up,” hypothesized another.
Too Far Out
Many people noted that polls taken over a year out have little utility. “I wish people would stop flipping out over polls every single day. It’s like asking someone who isn’t a meteorologist to accurately predict the weather a month out,” one person noted.
“Just like the polls that show the President losing to Trump, the polls are meaningless this far out. There is over a year before [the] elections. Even those polls a month out will be little more than throwing darts,” another commenter said.
Can’t Capture MAGA
Another person noted that getting data on Trump supporters is particularly tricky. “This is a demographic of people that distrusts the academic and media institutions that are conducting these polls and largely refuses to participate,” they said. “They represent a void in the data that makes any conclusions drawn from it suspect.”
Not a Popularity Contest
“The electoral college is all that matters,” one commenter reminded everyone. “If Biden wins Pennsylvania, which he probably will, he only needs one more so-called toss-up state to put him over 270 electoral college votes.”
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