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RFK’s Independent Run Most Likely Hurts Biden and Helps Trump 

Kennedy Jr’s Independence: A Challenge or Change in Dynamic for Trump and Biden?

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A fresh perspective by renowned political consultants augurs well for former President Donald Trump, hinting at a probable rerun of the presidential face-off between Trump and President Joe Biden.

Troy Olsen, an Army veteran and prominent political author based in the bustling city of New York, and Gavin Wax, a republican strategist and chief of the National Constitutional Law Union, shared their viewpoint in The Daily Caller.

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They contend that the speculation surrounding Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s decision to quit the Democrat Party and emerge as an independent contender for the presidency could potentially disrupt Trump’s prospects by detracting votes is less than well-founded.

The duo argue that the preliminary poll results, although not exhaustive, do little to support this supposition and establish that an independent run by RFK Jr could significantly weaken the position of the incumbent president.

President Joe Biden, they assert, finds himself in an unenviable historical position, potentially more vulnerable than any other incumbent president since perhaps even President Carter. Olsen and Wax, who are set to launch their book ‘The Emerging Populist Majority’, hold the view that history has often been unkind to incumbent presidents when a third-party candidate or independent contender garners a minimum of 5% voter support.

They indicate that such third-party or independent candidates generally pose a threat analogous to a formidable primary challenge within the incumbent president’s party, undermining the president’s overall political stance. Those who speak against this theory often point to the ideological alignment and shared characteristics with anti-establishment populist candidates.

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However, the problem, according to Olsen and Wax, lies in the belief that independent voters are as strongly rooted in ideology as the politicians or partisan advocates who incessantly delve into these details.

The consultants maintain that Independent and unaffiliated voters, in reality, represent a multitude of ideologies rather than a single, consensus-driven ideology. Were it so that these voters shared a unified viewpoint, a stable, actual third-party option would have been considerably easier to construct – an endeavor that has repeatedly been unsuccessful.

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Amid record-high dissatisfaction reported by Americans with political establishments, institutions, and the country’s course, these factors collectively stack the odds against the president’s party.

They go on to discuss concrete examples from the annals of past presidential elections where aspiring third-party candidates amplified the struggle for incumbent presidents.

In 1912, incumbent President William Howard Taft suffered due to a split within the Republican establishment called the Bull Moose, brought about by Theodore Roosevelt’s attempt to mitigate his premature retirement.

Olsen and Wax introduce more historical instances such as the 1948 election. During that year, neither Henry Wallace nor Strom Thurmond served incumbent Harry Truman well.

Just like the Republican split in 1912, a division of Democratic votes ensued as the solid south walked away from the New Deal coalition – a wound from which the coalition has yet to heal.

Years later, John Anderson, despite his history as a Republican in Congress, turned out to be a pitfall for Democrat President Jimmy Carter in his face-off against a Republican challenger in the form of Ronald Reagan. Similarly, the 1992 presidential campaign witnessed allegations of Ross Perot’s candidacy harming incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush.

Consequently, the consultants hint that Gary Johnson’s votes in 2016, who had previously served as a GOP governor, and liberal Jill Stein’s votes which swung in the favor of Biden in 2020, could’ve also played a decisive role in 2016.

According to them, votes against the incumbent in the past for whatever reason, tend to be part of a referendum and not always an expression of choice.

Instead of wondering how Kennedy Jr, who is going to spend substantial resources to feature on the ballot, will disrupt or ruin reelection prospects through a final spree of misplaced Camelot nostalgia, a more noteworthy analysis lies in the workings of the electoral college. This essentially is the deciding factor in the outcome of elections.

If it so happens that Kennedy Jr. finds himself without a viable route to victory through the electoral college, a sizeable portion of his votes are likely to gravitate towards Trump and Biden as the end approaches. Thus, Olsen and Wax articulate a comprehensive viewpoint, inciting intriguing thought and stimulating analytical discourse.

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