Polls Show RFK Jr. Could Threaten Biden’s Slim Margins in Key Battleground States

By: Alex Trent | Published: Apr 04, 2024

Robert Kennedy Jr. is in a unique position to take votes away from Democrat Joe Biden as polls show his rising popularity with Hispanic voters in key swing states like Arizona and Nevada. 

Political analysts predict that Biden’s route to the White House will likely depend on support from these two states, which he won in 2020 by very slim margins.

Hispanic Support

In a poll published in February by Democrat Group Equis Research, Kennedy had larger-than-expected support among Latino voters. 

A mom and daughter smile while sitting down.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

The poll questioned 2,010 registered Latino voters and found that Kennedy was winning one in five young Latino voters. He also had 17% of the Latino support in Arizona and 21 percent in Nevada. It’s possible with this support he could splinter critical votes away from Joe Biden.


Race for President

Kennedy began his bid for president in the Democratic primary, seeking to challenge the incumbent President Joe Biden. However, in October, RFK Jr. announced he was going to be running as an independent.

Many I Voted stickers on a white surface.

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As a third-party candidate, he has been called a conservative by liberals and a liberal by conservatives, making any rise to his popularity a threat to both major candidates.

RFK Jr. On the Ballot

Right now, Kennedy is only on the ballot in one state, Utah. However, Kennedy’s campaign has said they have collected enough signatures to get on the ballot in Arizona and Nevada, states where around one-fifth of the population is Latino.

A person putting their ballot paper into a box. The box is clear and has a sticker saying “vote” on it and the US flag.

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Previously, in 2020, Biden assembled a Hispanic coalition in US battleground states and achieved 59 percent of the Hispanic vote which helped propel him to victory.

Big Threat to Biden

Mike Noble, the founder of polling firm Noble Predictive Insights, which conducts polls in both Arizona and Nevada, recognizes the threat from Kennedy.

Joe Biden holds a microphone while speaking.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

“It’s a big threat to them if Kennedy gets on the ballot in these two states. He would be pulling more from Biden,” said Noble, “That road to 270 [Electoral College votes] runs through the Southwest, and for them to dismiss him is silly.”

Kennedy’s Golden Name

Fernand Amandi, a former pollster for both Obama presidential campaigns told Politico that RFK Jr. poses a substantial threat to Biden’s reelection campaign. Biden is in a place where he doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room for fluctuating or waning support.

A photo of Robert F. Kennedy seen in a grey suit with a blue tie in 2017.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

“Kennedy is a golden name in Democratic politics and any support he derives comes almost totally at the expense of Biden,” said Amandi.


Outreach to Hispanics

In an effort to reach Hispanics, RFK Jr. revived the “Viva Kennedy” campaign. This campaign was an iconic part of Senator John F. Kennedy’s campaign to increase his turnout in the 1960 presidential election against Richard Nixon.

A man crosses his arms while smiling outside.

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There are a record number of eligible Hispanic voters this election cycle, which Axios reported in February is around 36.2 million.


Close Margins in 2020

Part of the formula for Biden’s win over Trump in 2020 was his victories in Arizona and Nevada. Arizona had not gone blue for presidential elections since Bill Clinton won it in 1996.

Joe Biden wearing a suit speaking in front of a podium into a microphone.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Biden only managed to win Arizona by 11,000 votes. In Nevada, he only won by 2.4 percent or around 34,000 votes.


Biden Behind Trump in Swing States

Recent polls show that Biden is slightly gaining on Trump in critical swing states, but still trails him in a majority of them. 

Donald Trump speaking at a podium at the RNC with American flags behind him.

Source: Ali Shaker, Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons

The lead that Trump has in many swing states has been narrowing in recent months. It’s unclear how close the gap will be just before the election in November, but a slight change in margins like this could have a drastic effect on the outcome of the race.


Younger Latino Voters

Brookings reported last May that younger Latino voters are becoming an increasingly important factor ahead of the 2024 election. In Nevada and Arizona, young Latinos comprise 40 percent of all new eligible voters.

A woman wearing a shirt that says 'gimme jesus."

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These new voters have not voted for a president before and may be less likely to vote strictly along party lines, opening up an opportunity for Kennedy.


Voting Age of Latinos

According to Pew Research, the surge in young Latino voters comes from the fact they are the second-fastest growing racial and ethnic group in the US. 

People wait in a voting line during the 2020 election.

Source: Bart Everson/Wikimedia

The median voting age for Latinos in the United States is 39, which is nine years younger than the average median for the rest of the population.


Relying on Hispanic Support

In the past, Democrats and Joe Biden have relied on the wave of coming-of-age Latino voters to support them through their voting efforts. The younger electorate tended to support the Democrat party’s policies in the past.

RFK Jr. Speaks during a campaign event.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

However, Kennedy’s level of support and his blending of both progressive and conservative ideas could set the stage for a disaster for Biden’s reelection victory path come November.