RFK Jr.’s Popularity Among Black Voters Ticks Up Post-VP Pick

But broad efforts to court Black voters are yet to reap benefits on vote choice
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April 03, 2024 at 5:00 am UTC

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. took a big step forward in his independent presidential campaign for 2024, introducing Silicon Valley entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan as his running mate. And though the vice presidential rollout didn’t boost his popularity among the general electorate, Morning Consult trend data suggests it did move the needle with Black voters, whom Kennedy has aggressively courted this year.

The share of Black voters with a favorable view of Kennedy increased from 38% to 51% in surveys conducted before and after he announced Shanahan as his VP pick on March 26. The share of Black voters with unfavorable views of him ticked down from 32% to 24% over that time frame.

Black Voters Increasingly View RFK Favorably Following VP Announcement

Shares of voters with favorable and unfavorable views of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., before and after his VP announcement on March 26
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Surveys conducted March 22-24 and March 30-31, 2024, among roughly 2,000 registered U.S. voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Kennedy saw a smaller bump in his favorability, from 47% to 51%, among Hispanic voters between the two surveys, as well as a similarly sized 7-percentage-point dip in his unfavorability rating.

The upward movement among those two key groups stands out among those out among those expected to be pivotal in deciding whether President Joe Biden wins another term in office or is defeated by his predecessor, Donald Trump. And while Kennedy has no chance of winning the election in November due to a variety of institutional, structural and practical factors, his viability with these groups may go a long way toward settling the question.

Regarding that viability, Morning Consult trend data suggests uneven progress, at best, for Kennedy, even among the Black voters his campaign is targeting.

Our daily tracking of the November contest — which asks voters if they’d choose Biden, Trump or “someone else” if the election were held today — shows the “someone else” share declined from 11% to 9% among all voters between December 2022 and February 2024, according to our latest Election Watch report

In the shorter term, surveys conducted before and after Kennedy’s VP rollout show that number dipping further among the general electorate, with mixed returns for Biden and Trump among key groups.

Post-RFK VP Pick, “Someone Else” Vote Choice Ticks Down Nationally

Shares of voters who said they’d vote for “someone else” in a Biden-Trump 2024 matchup, before and after Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s March 26 VP announcement
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Surveys conducted March 22-24 and March 30-31, 2024, among roughly 6,000 registered U.S. voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-1 percentage point.

The Biden campaign will be happy to see the share of Black voters, 18- to -34-year-olds and Biden 2020 voters who are willing to back “someone else” come down. It will be even happier to see that the share of Trump 2020 voters who said the same has gone up.

What it means for 2024

The Biden campaign is facing two main challenges with Black voters ahead of November. 

Survey data and election returns over the past several cycles suggest that educational polarization is driving an erosion in Democratic support among African-Americans who are working class. Turnout history also indicates that even if Black voters aren’t crossing the aisle to vote for Republicans, they’re not showing up for Democrats in the same numbers that they once were.

Kennedy’s uptick in popularity among Black voters over the past week may be a reflection of heightened interest in his campaign among those disaffected Black voters. Whether he is able to convert an increase in popularity into actual support will provide a useful data point for evaluating how the Democratic Party is handling those challenges.

A headshot photograph of Cameron Easley
Cameron Easley
Lead U.S. Politics Analyst

Cameron Easley is Morning Consult’s lead analyst for U.S. politics. Prior to moving into his current role, he led Morning Consult's editorial coverage of U.S. politics and elections from 2016 through 2022. Cameron joined Morning Consult from Roll Call, where he was managing editor. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Follow him on Twitter @cameron_easley. Interested in connecting with Cameron to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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