Why Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s current presidential polling numbers might not hold up

WASHINGTON — Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has reached 15% or more in three approved national polls. One more, and he will have met one of CNN’s benchmarks to qualify for the debate June 27 with Democratic President Joe Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But Kennedy cannot count on maintaining his current level of support as the November election nears.

It is pretty common for third-party candidates to look like they have polling momentum in the months before an election, only to come up far short at the ballot box, according to an Associated Press analysis of Gallup data going back to 1980.

That is not a sign that the polls about Kennedy are wrong right now. They just are not predictors of what will happen in the general election.

Studies have shown that people are bad at predicting their future behavior, and voting is months away. And in a year with two highly unpopular candidates in a rematch from 2020, voters may also use their early support for a third-party candidate to express their frustration with the major party choices. In the end, voters may support the candidate for whom they feel their vote can make a difference or

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