When Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the Democrat-turned-independent candidate, introduced his run for president, it was cheap to suppose he is perhaps a potential spoiler — a candidate who drew voters away from President Biden and will assist elect Donald J. Trump.

Thus far, it’s not so easy.

Throughout the battleground states within the New York Instances/Siena School polls released Monday, Mr. Kennedy really drew considerably extra help from Mr. Trump than Mr. Biden, with 8 p.c of Mr. Trump’s supporters preferring Mr. Kennedy within the five-way race to 7 p.c of Mr. Biden’s supporters.

Trying on the minor-party candidates extra typically, the outcomes had been primarily equivalent in both the two-way or the five-way race. Mr. Trump led by 6.19 factors amongst registered voters throughout the six states within the two-way race, in contrast with a 6.16-point lead when Mr. Kennedy and different minor-party candidates made up a five-way race. Evidently, this isn’t a fabric distinction.

There’s a twist, nonetheless — one which raises the chance that Mr. Kennedy might in the end play an even bigger position than he does at the moment.

The twist is that Mr. Kennedy attracts disproportionately from voters who often again Democrats however have defected to Mr. Trump.

In actual fact, Mr. Kennedy really takes extra Biden 2020 voters than Trump ’20 voters, regardless that Mr. Kennedy attracts extra Trump ’24 voters than Biden ’24 voters.

He drew 8 p.c of Mr. Biden’s 2020 supporters to six p.c of those that backed Mr. Trump, regardless that extra of his supporters would again Mr. Trump at the moment.

Equally, Mr. Kennedy drew 7 p.c of self-identified Democrats, in contrast with 4 p.c of Republicans.

And he drew 8 p.c of those that backed Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate within the 4 states the place we requested about them, in contrast with 6 p.c of those that backed the Republican candidate.

It may appear complicated that Mr. Kennedy is disproportionately robust among the many sliver of Trump voters who often vote Democratic, however it makes a whole lot of sense. The polls present many disengaged younger and nonwhite voters who often lean Democratic, however have soured a lot on Mr. Biden that they backed Mr. Trump within the polls. However it’s not as in the event that they love Mr. Trump. They voted in opposition to him final time, in spite of everything, and so they often vote Democratic. So it’s straightforward to see why these voters would like Mr. Kennedy to Mr. Trump.

All of this provides as much as an uncommon takeaway: Mr. Kennedy could also be successful over voters whom Mr. Biden may have with a view to win, even when these voters have soured on him a lot that they wouldn’t vote for him even when Mr. Kennedy weren’t on the poll. He will not be a spoiler now, however maybe he might be if Mr. Biden’s standing improved.

When you’ve been studying the polling about Mr. Kennedy rigorously, you’ve seen that his degree of help will be everywhere. In some polls, he barely wins any help in any respect. In others, he’s reached practically 20 p.c or extra — together with in our last Times/Siena polls of those similar states.

What’s the reason? At the moment, my colleague Ruth Igielnik reports the findings of an experiment that helps remedy the thriller. The quick reply: It’s in regards to the wording and order of the questionnaire.

You’ll need to learn extra about it here, together with how one in all our personal colleagues (who has a generic-sounding identify) fared as a hypothetical third-party candidate.



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