Nearly two months after national polling predicted that Cornel West would be a “spoiler” for Joe Biden’s reelection efforts, a new survey is suggesting that is not actually true at all. Instead, Biden could actually be helped by the presidential campaign of at least one third-party candidate whose name is not Cornel West.
In a head-to-head matchup, Biden would barely edge Donald Trump if the election was held today, according to data from a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist national poll released on Tuesday. The research found that Biden would win with 49% of the vote to Trump’s 46%.
However, when factoring in the independent candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Biden’s lead over Trump grows to seven percentage points. That scenario gives Kennedy 16% of the vote, dropping Biden to 44% and Trump to 37%.
“Kennedy’s presence erodes Trump’s lead among independents and cuts into his support among Republicans,” according to the poll. “Trump’s loss among his base is double the loss Biden experiences among Democrats.”
Three percent of the voters polled were identified as being undecided.
Nowhere in the polling results is West mentioned once even though it was just two weeks ago when he broke from the Green Party to launch an independent candidacy like Kennedy.
Conversely, a Fox News poll released last week gave the three top polling Republicans – Trump, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley – the edge over Biden if the election was held at that time.
Those numbers change when factoring in Kennedy and West’s independent candidacies.
From Fox News:
Kennedy, who announced Monday he will run as an independent instead of as a Democrat, takes about equally from both sides, as 13% of Democrats and 11% of Republicans back him over their party’s candidate. Biden and Trump tie at 41% in this scenario and Kennedy gets 16%.
With West in the race (9%), Biden trails Trump by 2 points (43-45%). Again, roughly equal numbers of Democrats (7%) and Republicans (5%) defect for West. Trump’s narrow advantage comes from independents preferring him (35%) over both West (28%) and Biden (26%).
Independents are more likely to go for Kennedy (41%) than West (28%). That is at the expense of Trump, who performs 9 points better among independents against West than Kennedy.
When West was seeking the Green Party’s presidential nomination, data from a polling source described as “increasingly accurate” found that the noted scholar and activist’s third-party candidacy would be a “spoiler” for Biden’s reelection.
The poll – released just days before the first Republican primary presidential debate – suggested that Trump, if he is the Republican nominee, would barely emerge victorious over the Democratic incumbent with West also on the ballot.
The same Emerson College poll also found at the time that Biden and Trump were in a dead heat in a head-to-head matchup that did not factor in West’s candidacy.
Noticeably missing from that poll was Kennedy.
According to Emerson College Polling’s August national poll, in an election featuring Biden, Trump and West on the ballot, the Republican would have 42% of the votes, the incumbent would have 41% of the votes and West, as a Green Party nominee, would have 5% of the votes. Thirteen percent of the respondents said they were undecided. When West is not on the ballot, Biden and Trump are tied at 44% of the vote each with 12% undecided.
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