Did RFK Jr.’s Presidential Campaign Just Flame Out?

Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty
Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty

In the runup to the season’s first presidential debate set for June 27, longshot third-party candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. managed to satisfy two of the prerequisites for a run at the Oval Office: being born in the United States, and filing an official statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.

However, the longtime anti-vaxxer and brainworm survivor failed to clear the bar on two other requirements, namely, reaching a threshold of at least 15 percent in four major national polls of registered or likely voters, and getting himself on the ballot in enough states to have a shot at clinching the necessary 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the election in November.

Kennedy fell short on both counts, garnering the minimum level of support in just three approved polls—CNN, Quinnipiac University, and Marquette Law—and appearing on the ballot in a mere nine states, which account for a total 139 electoral votes.

President Joe Biden and former president and newly convicted felon Donald Trump were the only candidates to qualify, according to CNN, which is hosting next week’s debate.

Kennedy, 70, has also struggled mightily in his fundraising efforts, with the campaign “on financial life support” as of a week ago, Politico reported.

“Kennedy has tried myriad gimmicks to bring in donations: Months of hawking $10 raffle tickets—Whale watching! The thrill of Falconry! Luxury sunset sailing adventure!—have only resulted in anemic small-dollar donation totals,” according to the outlet. “The campaign has tried to attract larger donations by running online auctions for Kennedy paraphernalia and exclusive perks, but those efforts have never hit their monthly fundraising goals. The campaign just launched a new ploy: Paying supporters 15 percent of any funds they help raise.”

Still, it was not nearly enough to get Kennedy over the finish line. His candidacy has largely been funded by Trump megadonor Tim Mellon. And if controversial running mate Nicole Shanahan hadn’t recently pumped some $15 million into the campaign’s coffers, the entire operation would be insolvent, according to Politico.

The Kennedy campaign reported a paltry $6.4 million in cash on hand at the end of May.

Kennedy could potentially qualify for the second debate, which will be hosted by ABC News and is scheduled for September 10, according to NBC News.

All told, Kennedy’s chances of a victory in November are “essentially nil,” YouGov reported earlier this month, and his net favorability ratings plummeted 25 points between January and June, from +12 to -13.

“Over the past several months, his support has increased from 2 percent of registered voters to 4 percent, but this rise is within the margin of error and far outside the level of a contender,” according to YouGov.

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