Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Campaign Is Winning Republicans, Not Democrats

Kennedy’s popularity has soured among Democratic primary voters, who are 59 points more likely to prefer Biden
Unsplash / Morning Consult artwork by Ashley Berry and Kelly Rice
July 26, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • Roughly 2 in 5 potential Democratic primary voters hold unfavorable views of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., up from 24% in early April. Over that period, the share of potential Republican primary voters who view him positively increased from 42% to 50% as he criticized President Joe Biden and espoused views that have appeal in some right-wing quarters.

  • With the backing of 71% of potential Democratic primary voters, Biden is the overwhelming favorite to win his party’s 2024 presidential nomination, compared with 12% who support Kennedy and 4% who back self-help author Marianne Williamson.

Sign up to get the latest data and analysis on how business, politics and economics intersect around the world.

More than three months into Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, the anti-vaccine activist who is former President John F. Kennedy’s nephew hasn’t seen his support grow among the party’s electorate. 

But following news coverage of his bigoted comment that COVID-19 could have been “ethnically targeted” to protect Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people and his appearance before a GOP-led House panel, our new survey finds he has improved his standing among Americans who plan to vote in Republican contests next year, while his popularity with the Democratic electorate has tumbled. 

RFK Jr.’s Popularity Has Declined Since Launching his 2024 Bid, Except with Republicans

Shares of voters with favorable or unfavorable views of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Morning Consult Logo
Surveys conducted in 2023 among representative samples of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

According to our July 20-22 survey, 41% of voters who said they plan to vote in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary or caucus in their state hold unfavorable views of Kennedy — up from 24% in early April. Over that period, the share who hold favorable opinions declined from 46% to 38%. 

Meanwhile, Kennedy’s favorability rating has improved from 42% to 50% among potential Republican primary voters as he’s criticized President Joe Biden and espoused health-related conspiracy theories that appeal in some right-wing quarters.

This analysis includes daily data: We survey thousands of U.S. voters every day, producing exclusive daily tracking on their perceptions of President Joe Biden’s job performance. 

Did you know? Other, more traditional polls with smaller sample sizes may look noisy or show jumps in support. Our dedication to high-frequency survey research means larger sample sizes of voters and demographics, with more consistency and more stability. Daily data matters.

The latest data was collected after Kennedy’s July 20 testimony to the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which Republicans launched to probe a wide range of anti-Biden investigations. Kennedy was on hand to talk about censorship, but faced a barrage of Democratic-led questions about his COVID-19 conspiracy theory.

Awareness of Kennedy reached a high point over the weekend in our tracking of the contest, with 59% of potential Democratic primary voters — and 53% of the overall electorate — saying they had recently heard something about him. Roughly 2 in 5 (41%) said that information was negative, compared with 18% who said it was positive. 

While Kennedy’s campaign and notoriety may serve as a talking point for Republicans looking to draw attention away from their own messy primary, it hasn’t hurt Biden’s support with the Democratic electorate. The incumbent president only slightly underperforms the support Donald Trump had with his own party four years ago.

Biden Leads Kennedy by 59 Points in the Democratic Primary Race

Shares of potential Democratic primary voters who said they would vote for the following if a 2024 presidential nominating contest were held in their state today:
Morning Consult Logo
Surveys conducted April 7-9, 2023 and July 20-22, 2023, among more than 800 voters who said they plan to vote in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary or caucus in their state, with unweighted margins of error of +/-3 percentage points.

Our new survey found that 71% of potential Democratic primary voters would vote for Biden, compared with 12% who would back Kennedy and 4% who would support author Marianne Williamson, who also sought the party’s 2020 nod. The numbers are in line with Biden’s standing in April following Kennedy’s campaign launch.

Biden’s support continues to be stronger among men than women (75% to 68%), though that gap has closed a bit since April. He also performs slightly better among Black voters than white voters (77% to 71%), keeping him on solid ground with a key Democratic constituency.

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

We want to hear from you. Reach out to this author or your Morning Consult team with any questions or comments.Contact Us