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How RFK Jr. independent presidential run would shake up 2024 race

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. running as an independent would throw a wrench into the 2024 race, strategists tell The Post, predicting the descendant of one of America’s most famous families will take votes away from both major party nominees.

RFK Jr., 69, is expected to confirm his third-party bid on Monday, ditching his previous affiliation with the Democratic Party, where some polls put him as high as 20% in a national primary against President Biden.

Although an independent run would raise some complications for Kennedy — including having to get his name on the ballot in every state — the party change will end up as a boon for the environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine advocate, said South Carolina-based Republican strategist Dave Wilson.

For Democratic-leaning voters, Wilson said, Kennedy would provide an “alternative that they need” to the 80-year-old commander-in-chief.

However, Wilson added, Kennedy’s persistent questioning of the COVID-19 vaccine could also peel off voters who would otherwise support the Republican front-runner, former President Donald Trump.

Surveys show a sizable chunk of voters appear to be dreading a Biden-Trump rematch, with an Oct. 4 Marquette Law School poll showing 16% of registered voters either would vote for someone else in that instance or not cast a ballot at all.

Kennedy “would probably pull a little bit from both parties,” agreed Republican strategist John Thomas, who predicted a Kennedy candidacy would draw more support from Biden’s support, given the enthusiasm of the 45th president’s “rock solid” base.

“I would imagine RFK Jr. is more of a problem for Biden as an independent than he was as a Democrat, because Biden was able to kind of crush him by ignoring him,” Thomas said.

“I think [going independent] is smart. He was certainly not going to get the Democratic nomination,” agreed Jason Roe, a Republican strategist and former executive director of the Michigan GOP.

Roe added that Kennedy would probably “benefit more from center-right voters,” while another newly-independent candidate, Cornel West, would pull more from the “progressive left that’s unhappy” with Biden.

Democrat strategist Brad Bannon predicted Kennedy would not have “much impact at all” on the president’s vote share — especially not as much as West or a potential candidate put forward by centrist group No Labels.

“If he has any impact at all, he’s going to have as much impact on Republicans as Democrats,” Bannon said, citing Kennedy’s anti-vaccine rhetoric.

In addition to his expected independent announcement at midday Monday in Philadelphia, RFK Jr. has also been invited to address an event put on by the Conservative Political Action Conference later this month in Las Vegas.

“If he has any impact at all, he’s going to have as much impact on Republicans as Democrats,” Bannon said, citing Kennedy’s anti-vaccine rhetoric.


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