Bookmakers have had mixed reactions to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.‘s decision to drop out of the Democratic presidential primary and run as an independent, circumventing the need to be nominated by his party, which overwhelmingly favors incumbent Joe Biden.
One betting company changed its odds on the candidate to reflect that the chances he will be holding the keys to the White House in January 2025 are now less likely, according to an aggregator. Kennedy Jr. still ranks fourth overall among the presidential candidates offered by 27 major bookmakers, and he is above all of the Republican candidates except Donald Trump.
Speaking in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Monday, the son of the assassinated former attorney general and his namesake said: “A rising tide of discontent is now swamping our country. There is danger in this discontent, but there is also opportunity and promise.”
In an op-ed for Newsweek published concurrently, Kennedy Jr. railed against “two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them,” claiming that “if left unchecked, they will commoditize our air, water, food, labor, and children—and turn the American Dream into desperation and dust.”
“I declared my independence from these corrupting powers because they are incompatible with the inalienable rights that our original Declaration of Independence invoked in 1776: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he added.
However, some members of his family criticized the move. In a joint statement, Kerry Kennedy, his sister, wrote that it was “perilous for our country,” adding: “Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment.”
Like with Cornel West, who also recently declared himself an independent candidate, there are fears that a strong outside contender on the left could split the Democratic vote and hand the election to the Republicans—though third-party activists dispute this claim.
Since he proclaimed his intention to run outside the two-party system, 10Bet widened his odds from 14/1 to 16/1. Paddypower similarly gave him 14/1 odds on September 25, according to Oddschecker, but as of October 10 the bookmaker ranked him at 16/1.
Several others, such as BetMGM, however, have held Kennedy Jr.’s odds where they were following his announcement, suggesting they see his independent bid as making electoral success no more or less likely.
Oddschecker ranks Kennedy Jr. above many other potential candidates, including the entire Republican primary field apart from Trump, who has the highest aggregate score, 7/4, of all candidates.
After Trump, Biden is on odds of 2/1 to win in 2024, and ahead of Kennedy Jr. is California Governor Gavin Newsom, on 10/1. He hasn’t declared his candidacy, but has long been touted as a potential future contender in the Democratic Party.
Newsweek approached Kennedy Jr.’s campaign team via email for comment on Tuesday.
According to the latest poll by Quinnipiac University, conducted between September 28 and October 2 among 759 registered voters, Kennedy Jr. was trailing Biden in the Democratic primary field by 53 percentage points. It remains to be seen how he will fare in a national poll.