Robert F. Kennedy’s independent White House bid is taking something away from Donald Trump that few candidates can afford to do without: donors.
And — let’s whisper this part — maybe some voters, too.
It isn’t as though everybody who contributed three bucks or voted twice for Trump suddenly did a 180 and went all-in with the Kennedy family scion. But, according to a Politico analysis released on Wednesday, Kennedy is “collecting checks from past Donald Trump donors at a much higher rate than former Joe Biden contributors.”
While “most of the $10 million Kennedy raised from large-dollar donors through Sept. 30 came from voters who did not make any federal donation” during the last two races, “2,100 donors — giving nearly $2 million — previously made contributions on the Republican donation service WinRed since 2020.”
Only 1,700 donors, totaling $1.7 million, “previously gave through the Democratic tool ActBlue.”
Politics isn’t all about the money, of course. Just because donors are leaving Trump for Kennedy in greater numbers than they’re abandoning Biden, doesn’t mean that Trump voters will do the same thing. But it isn’t exactly the kind of positive indicator you’d like to see this close to the start of an election year.
However, some recent polls indicate that Kennedy is a bigger problem for Trump than he is for Biden. One recent poll, conducted shortly before Kennedy dropped the D and went independent, showed that “a third-party bid would pull more support from former President Donald Trump than President Joe Biden.” In a three-way race, Trump’s support dropped from 40% to 38%, while Biden’s held steady at 38%. The poll was conducted by Zogby and commissioned by Kennedy’s own American Values 2024 super PAC, so maybe take that one with a grain or nine of salt.
But last week’s USA Today/Suffolk University Poll produced almost the exact same results. In that one, Kennedy “won 13% of the vote in a hypothetical match-up, drawing voters who by 2-1 said they would otherwise support the probable Republican nominee.”
Just so you know, I’m not one of those voters. I’ve described Kennedy in recent columns as “still just a f****** Commie” who “just proved he’s still a hard-left radical.” (Those are VIP links, if you were thinking of becoming one of our supporters.) But the important thing is that if Kennedy wants my vote, he’s going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: go back to being a Dem and wait until I’m dead.
But if the polls are correct — and at the very least, Politico’s donor analysis appears solid — we’re witnessing one of the dangers of doing business with populists. Populism is an old and respected tradition in American politics, but by its nature, populism is more about shifting public passions than it is about party, principle, or policy.
ASIDE: Concerns about populism are exactly why the Founders made the House the only popularly elected federal office and limited their terms to two years. Senators, not originally elected and holding office for six years, were supposed to be immune to such temporary passions — and the Senate was where ill-considered House legislation was supposed to die.
I wouldn’t expect any solid Trump supporters — most of the readers of this site, to mention many thousands — to switch to Kennedy. But Trump brought a lot of Democrats over to the GOP, particularly in 2016. Those newbies were always more akin to John Kennedy Democrats than to actual Republicans. And, well, here’s a shiny new Kennedy to steal their attention.
Let’s hope we can get them to notice he’s still just a [REDACTED] Commie, long before Election Day.