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Why Having Kennedy on the Ballot in Texas May Worry Ted Cruz

U.S.Why Having Kennedy on the Ballot in Texas May Worry Ted Cruz

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate, is on track to submit enough signatures to get on the ballot in Texas, potentially setting the stage for a three-way contest in the nation’s second most populous state.

While Mr. Kennedy is unlikely to win the Republican-dominated state, his addition to the presidential race in Texas could have an unintended and unexpected consequence: lending a hand to the Democratic challenger seeking to unseat Senator Ted Cruz.

For weeks, the Cruz campaign has been privately expressing concern, seeing Mr. Kennedy as perhaps the biggest wild card in a race that Mr. Cruz had hoped to comfortably win. Texas has favored Mr. Trump in the last two elections, winning about 52 percent of the state’s vote in 2020.

But a three-way race in November could upset that balance by bringing more voters to the polls who dislike both Mr. Trump and President Biden. More of those voters appear to also dislike Mr. Cruz, a two-term incumbent with nearly universal name recognition in Texas.

A recent poll found that Mr. Kennedy’s supporters favored the Democrat, Representative Colin Allred, over Mr. Cruz in the race for the U.S. Senate by a significant margin.

“The race where Kennedy is most consequential is the Senate race,” said Mark P. Jones, a Rice University political science professor who worked on the poll for the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation. “Kennedy is going to mobilize people who would otherwise stay home, and those Kennedy voters are going to be more likely to support Allred than Cruz.”

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