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These wild card candidates could upend the 2024 election


Daily Caller News Foundation

  • Multiple third-party candidates could be on the presidential ballot in 2024, potentially siphoning off a large portion of the electorate in another likely close race.
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West are running as independents, former Green Party nominee Jill Stein is running again, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin could run with centrist organization No Labels and a Libertarian Party candidate will likely also be on the ticket in 2024. 
  • “A long list of potential third party candidates paired with two unpopular major party frontrunners is a good recipe for increased third party presidential voting in 2024,” Kyle Kondik, nonpartisan polling analyst and managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Multiple declared and potential third-party candidates for president could upend the 2024 election by siphoning off a large portion of the electorate in what will likely be another close matchup between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who recently switched his party from Democrat to independent, is already polling in the double digits against Biden and Trump — the leading candidates for their respective party nominations — and independent candidate Cornel West has also received enough support in the surveys to potentially sway the election. On Thursday, former Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who was often blamed for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss, launched another campaign, and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced that he will not seek reelection, further sparking rumors of a potential third-party run with centrist organization No Labels.

“It is key to remember that the 2016 election was essentially decided by the ‘dislike both’ crosstab. That is people who were unfavorable toward both President Trump and Hillary Clinton. This year we have a broad range of third-party choices for those people to consider; with Biden’s disapproval at 55%+ these types of voters are likely to pick a third-party candidate or simply stay home,” Nathan Klein, pollster for OnMessage Inc., told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Both dynamics favor President Trump, simply because his base is so loyal to him, whereas Biden’s coalition was a ‘maybe try something different’ group the last time around. This election, ‘something different’ is most likely to bleed from the guy who WAS something different last time but is now a known quantity,” Klein added.

The pollster pointed to a Stack Data Strategy projection released Monday that found Trump beating Biden in the Electoral College, with Biden winning the popular vote by 1 point, and the former president winning back the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. When respondents were polled about Kennedy, West and a generic Green Party and Libertarian Party candidate, Trump picked up Nevada’s six electoral votes, with the third-party candidates receiving more than 10% support combined, Politico reported.

The RealClearPolitics average for a 2024 national Republican and Democratic primary, based on the most recent polling, indicates Trump and Biden are leading their fields with 58.5% and 72.1% support, respectively. Americans largely have an unfavorable view of both men, with only 39.8% and 40.9% on average favoring Biden and Trump, respectively, according to FiveThirtyEight’s compilation.

“A long list of potential third party candidates paired with two unpopular major party frontrunners is a good recipe for increased third party presidential voting in 2024,” Kyle Kondik, nonpartisan polling analyst and managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told the DCNF.

Multiple recent surveys have found that Kennedy’s independent candidacy is receiving anywhere from 14% to 26% in a three-way race, pulling support from both Trump and Biden.

A New York Times/Sienna College poll released Nov. 5 indicated Kennedy received 24% support across six crucial battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — compared to Trump’s 35% and Biden’s 33%. The independent also secured over 20% in each individual state, with the most support coming from Michigan and Arizona at 26%.

Another survey, conducted by Quinnipiac University and published on Nov. 1, found Kennedy with 22% support nationally, following Biden and Trump with 39% and 36%, respectively.

“Polling generally does overstate third party support, so I would treat surveys showing RFK Jr. at 15%-20% very skeptically, but there is going to be some share of the vote that goes third party,” said Kondik. “I would watch ballot access, particularly for those, like RFK Jr., who are not running under an official party banner. Getting on the ballot can be an onerous process, and it may be that not every notable third party candidate makes the ballot in every key state.”

Kennedy’s campaign is currently seeking donations toward its ballot access efforts, which it estimates will cost about $15 million. The independent already filed a petition on Nov. 1 to get on the ballot in the battleground state of North Carolina, which will require roughly 83,000 signatures, according to The News & Observer.

West initially ran as a People’s Party candidate, and announced in mid-June that he would instead seek the Green Party nomination. The candidate declared in early October that his campaign will move forward as an independent, meaning he will also have to gain ballot access on his own.

“Our Constitution provides for independent candidates to gain ballot access in all states, and I have begun seeking ballot access as an independent, unaffiliated with any political party,” West told NBC News on Oct. 5.

Polling has found West garnering anywhere from 4% to 6% in three-way races with Trump and Biden, as well as four-way matchups with Kennedy on the ballot.

The Quinnipiac University survey suggested the independent would receive 6% support, following Biden with 36%, Trump with 35% and Kennedy with 19%. A late September McLaughlin & Associates poll found West at 6% in a three-way race nationally, with Trump receiving 43% and Biden garnering 38%.

An Emerson College poll released in early August found West’s candidacy swaying the race in Michigan, where he garnered 4% support and helped Trump win against Biden by 2 points.

Stein, who led the Green Party ticket in 2012 and 2016, announced a third presidential campaign after West withdrew his candidacy for the nomination, criticizing “the two-party establishment.” The Green Party has already secured ballot access in 17 states plus Washington, D.C., according to its website.

Many attributed Clinton’s loss to Stein’s campaign, arguing that if the Green Party candidate’s share went to the Democrat in key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Trump wouldn’t have won the election.

“It really only matters what happens in a couple of swing states,” Jon McHenry, a GOP polling analyst and vice president at North Star Opinion Research, told the DCNF of potential implications third-party candidates could have on 2024. “In a Georgia and an Arizona, Pennsylvania, maybe, Wisconsin, North Carolina — those states it probably will matter on the margins.”

Businessman Ross Perot ran for president in 1992 and 1996 as a third-party candidate, where he received 18.9% and 8.4% national support, respectively, helping former President Bill Clinton to secure two terms. Attorney Ralph Nader ran for president four times, and secured 2.7% of the share as a third-party candidate in the 2000 election — which former President George W. Bush barely won.

Manchin had been weighing whether to run for another term in the red state of West Virginia, likely against popular GOP Gov. Jim Justice, or to run for president in 2024. The senator decided against the former, and announced he’d be “traveling the country, and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle, and bring Americans together.”

No Labels is floating running a “unity ticket” as an “insurance policy” against Trump and Biden, whom the organization views as the most extreme ends of the political spectrum. Manchin, among others, have been viewed as potential candidates for the ballot, which won’t be decided until spring 2024.

The organization has already gained ballot access in at least ten states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, South Dakota, Nevada and Florida — and is hoping to reach 28 states by the end of the year.

The McLaughlin & Associates survey also polled a four-way race with Manchin as the No Labels candidate, along with West, Trump and Biden. The senator garnered 6% and West received 4%, with Trump and Biden bringing in 40% and 36% support, respectively.

A Libertarian Party candidate, who historically brings in a notable 1% to 3% support, will also likely be on the ballot in 2024.

McHenry believes it’s still “too early to tell” the impacts multiple third party candidates might have on 2024, considering the state of world affairs and the four indictments brought against Trump.

“It matters if Trump has been convicted by that point, because that might just be a relief valve for some other people who can’t abide voting for Biden, but can’t really bring themselves to vote for Trump, to vote for a third party candidate,” said McHenry. “We also don’t know if Israel will have defeated Hamas, and Ukraine will have beaten Russia and the economy looks good — Joe Biden is in great shape, regardless of who runs.”

Kennedy, West, Stein, Manchin, No Labels, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment. Neither Trump nor Biden responded to comment.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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