U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has officially switched teams in his bid to become the nation’s next leader, generating speculation that he will pull votes from the Republican side of the aisle come November 2024.
On Monday, the environmental lawyer announced that he was no longer challenging incumbent Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket and would instead be entering the field as an Independent.
“The good news is that people, like yourselves, are finally fed up,” Kennedy said to a crowd of supporters in Philadelphia, Pa. “That’s why I’m here to declare myself an Independent candidate.”
Dr. Glenn Antizzo, an associate professor of political science at Mississippi College, wagers that Kennedy’s White House run will take votes away from the eventual Republican nominee due to the environmental attorney’s vocal objection to vaccine mandates.
“Believe it or not, I think there is a chance that Bobby Kennedy may scoop off some people on the Republican side,” Antizzo said on Tuesday’s episode of The Gallo Show.
While Antizzo does not believe Kennedy has enough of a base to win the election, the professor believes his presence along with that of fellow third-party candidate Cornel West could sway a significant number of total voters.
“I think [Kennedy’s views on vaccine mandates] will stop him from having broad appeal, but this is one of those times that while I don’t think the impact will be as big as Ross Perot in ’92 and ’96…I think between Cornel West and Kennedy, there is a chance that nobody else gets a majority,” Antizzo continued.
In 1992, Perot ran as an independent against Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush, and with nearly 20 million votes, Perot helped land Clinton in the Oval Office. Perot’s 1996 run as a Reform Party candidate was not as pivotal as Clinton easily secured a second term.
Antizzo also said that “general angst” among the American people will help third-party candidates receive more votes than in recent elections.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of discontent in this country right now,” Antizzo said, citing inflation and high gas prices.
The most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll has former Republican President Donald Trump leading at 40 percent, current Democratic President Biden at 38 percent, and Kennedy at 14 percent.
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