Kennedy Announces Independent Candidacy For POTUS

On October 9, 2023, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that he was withdrawing from the 2024 presidential primaries and would instead run for president of the United States as an independent next year.

Kennedy, 69, is the third child of U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, and Ethel Skakel Kennedy. He is also the nephew of President John F. Kennedy and of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. An attorney, Kennedy has spent much of his career working on environmental issues.

Kennedy entered the Democratic presidential contest in April 2023. Despite his family’s status and his impressive fundraising, he struggled to make inroads with Democrats; on average, he received the support of 14% of Democratic voters in opinion polls. However, a recent poll also showed him receiving support from 14% of overall voters in a three-way race against President Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump.

During his October 9 announcement, Kennedy said: “‘We declare independence from the cynical elites who betray our hope and who amplify our divisions. And finally, we declare independence from the two political parties.’”

Kennedy’s political positions are an unusual mix of standard Democratic positions (he is pro-choice), populism, isolationism, vaccine skepticism, and unproven conspiracy theories. His campaign features a heavy security presence, and he has speculated that the CIA may make an attempt on his life.

It is difficult to tell how Kennedy’s shift to an independent candidacy will affect the outcome of the 2024 presidential race. On the one hand, his family is Democratic royalty, and some Democratic voters may gravitate towards him for that reason. On the other hand, much of his support appears to come from vaccine opponents who might otherwise favor Donald Trump.