Joe Biden critics have had a field day for the last several months as oft-described ‘fringe’ candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has variously polled in the low double-digits in several state and national surveys. This brings to mind the 1996 reelection bid of Bill Clinton – another Democratic incumbent who did not have to participate in primary debates. Nonetheless, Clinton still shed double-digit support to ex-felon Lyndon LaRouche in many state primaries en route to renomination including Colorado (11.0 percent), Louisiana (11.7), Oklahoma (12.7), Nebraska (10.9), and West Virginia (13.5) plus near misses in Delaware (9.7), Ohio (8.2), and Pennsylvania (8.0). [LaRouche also received 34.7 percent in North Dakota’s nonbinding primary where Clinton was not on the ballot].


  1. John Chessant on August 10, 2023 at 10:58 pm

    No fewer than four ‘fringe’ candidates scored double-digits in at least one state against Barack Obama in 2012, with John Wolfe, Jr. doing so twice: Louisiana (11.8) and Arkansas (41.6).

    In 2020, Bill Weld – whom it is certainly strange to describe as ‘fringe’, but given his political views and his campaign’s results I think it isn’t a stretch to say he is a fringe candidate with respect to the Republican Party – received over 10% of the vote in two states: Vermont (10.1) [where he had the endorsement of Gov. Phil Scott] and Maryland (13.2). He had near misses in another four states: New Hampshire (9.0), Massachusetts (9.2) [his home state], Nebraska (8.6), and Indiana (8.1). [Note: Weld had withdrawn before the contests in MD, NE, and IN, but remained on the ballot.]

    Of course, 2012 and 2020 (and 2024, in all likelihood) are tame compared to Pat Buchanan’s run in 1992, let alone the challengers in 1976 and 1980 who actually had winning chances. Will there ever again be a day where presidents are not assured of renomination?

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