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Spartan Scoop

Spartan Scoop

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Spartan Scoop


A look at Kennedy’s political views, VP choice, and effect on the election as a whole
Pamela Drew
RFK standing amongst a crowd of anti-vaxxers

The name ‘Kennedy’ can’t seem to keep itself out of American politics. Robert Francis Kennedy Jr is the latest among the Kennedy cohort to make news headlines. On April 19th, 2023, RFK Jr announced that he was running for president. This marked the beginning of a controversial 3rd party campaign. 

RFK Jr was always expected to fall short of becoming a majority-favored candidate, and this has most definitely been the case so far. The public seriously doubts Kennedy’s likelihood of success for sensible reasons. According to an Ipsos poll, roughly 16% of Americans say they would vote for Kennedy in the 2024 election. The majority of this group has stayed faithful over the months, only varying by 2% since the poll began. However, the group of people that checked ‘I wouldn’t vote’, or ‘refused’ in the poll is only 5% behind Kennedy’s group of supporters.

The reality is that Kennedy, at most, will steal only a small margin of votes.

The reality is that Kennedy, at most, will steal only a small margin of votes.

Vote Splitting

Unfortunately for Biden and Trump, a small margin of votes is exactly what could turn the tide of the election. Many Democrats are worried that RFK Jr, a former Democrat, will steal votes from Biden, causing him to lose the election to Trump. This is a very realistic possibility, as in the past, 3rd party candidates have greatly influenced which candidate, either Democrat or Republican, gets into office by stealing votes.

For example, there is widespread speculation that Ross Perot, a 3rd party candidate who ran against George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992, cost Bush the election. Perot gathered a total of 19% of the vote, or in other words, took a significant percentage of voters away from voting for Bush. Perot supporters probably would have split their support among Clinton and Bush had it not been for his presence, which most likely flipped the results of the election entirely.

This phenomenon is called ‘vote splitting’. There is only so much support and votes to go around within a singular party. If there is more than one candidate in a party, support will split, resulting in a lower percentage of votes for either candidate. If the Democrats were to suffer from this issue, Republicans would be greatly advantaged in winning the presidential race, and same thing the other way around.

VP Choice

Kennedy wants to do more than just split the vote. Most recently, in an affirmation that he is still serious about trying to win the 2024 election, Kennedy revealed who his vice president would be.

Nicole Shanahan, a 35-year-old attorney and philanthropist, is who Kennedy finally settled on. Shanahan is the one who co-funded Kennedy’s Super Bowl ad, which cost her around 7 million dollars. She has never held political office before, but will undoubtedly be a vital part of Kennedy’s future campaign.

Some think that Kennedy chose Shanahan because of her wealth – Shanahan is worth about 400 million dollars. She presents herself as a great help to Kennedy’s expensive future campaign operations. Kennedy himself stated, “I would never choose a vice presidential candidate based on how much money that they have.”

Other than Shanahan, there were a few people that Kennedy considered for VP. Among them was NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura, a former WWE wrestler. The fact that he considered having these well-known celebrities be part of his campaign shows that RFK might have been looking for a ‘shock factor’ to make his candidacy more interesting to voters.

 Even though Kennedy ended up picking a far more practical running mate than Aaron Rodgers, he succeeded at staying in news headlines by even considering him. A politician picking a celebrity as their running mate is a perfect way to ensure news coverage, as the story is interesting and all-around humorous. However, if Kennedy wants to have any real shot at winning the election, he needs to maintain his spotlight.

Political Beliefs

Already having a background as an environmental lawyer, dealing with climate change is among the first things on Kennedy’s list. Kennedy is also an advocate of revamping the police force, although he is not in favor of defunding it. 

He also aims to quit some of the US’s involvement in foreign wars and bring home soldiers. However, given the developing war in the middle east, the next president of the US may end up having to send more troops rather than bringing them home.

As far as abortion goes, RFK Jr has been rather ambivalent. He has said in the past that he supports a federal abortion ban after 3 months of pregnancy, but his campaign has recently stated that he “does not support legislation [that] ban[s] abortion”. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a poll that said that for about 1 in 8 voters, abortion is the most important factor when deciding who to vote for. Kennedy will need to have a stance on the matter locked in before November if he wants to do well in the race.

Family Issues

The Kennedys, who came to America from Ireland in the mid 1800’s, are well known for being Democrats. Former President John F. Kennedy was a Democrat, and currently, five members of RFK Jr’s family are serving in the Biden Administration. RFK Jr has even made the statement, “Joe Biden has a bust of my father behind him at the oval office”.

As imagined, RFK’s choice to run as an independent wasn’t taken all too well by his family. John F. Kennedy’s grandson stated, “[RFK Jr is] trading in on camelot, celebrity, conspiracy theories, and conflict for personal gain and fame. I’ve listened to him. I know him. I have no idea why anyone thinks he should be president”.

However, RFK Jr does have multiple members of his family actively working with him in his campaign. He said in response to the backlash that no family agrees with each other all the time, and that he does not begrudge his family for conflicting with him.

Kennedy must overcome innumerable challenges if he wants to become president, but in the very least, he’ll serve as an experimental example for future third party candidates wanting to make a splash. So far, Kennedy has been effective at staying in the media, which will most likely be looked back on as a model.

About the Contributor
Asher Maney
Asher Maney, Reporter
Specializes in politics, gardening, and Grandpa Asher