Presidential Election

Third-party candidates could swing 2024 election

Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is considered a long-shot for president, but his campaign is getting the attention of Republicans and Democrats.

Third-party candidates could swing 2024 election
Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Wilfredo Lee / AP
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We already know a lot about this November's presidential election despite it still being more than seven months away. 

We know President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are their political party's presumptive nominees. We also know that it's a matchup that many Americans are dreading. 

So could a third-party candidate actually have an impact this year? Well, the coming days will be a critical stretch beyond the beltway for one candidate in particular: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The independent's campaign is still considered a long-shot, but it's one that's getting noticed. A recent poll conducted by Emerson College and The Hill had him polling at 5% in Michigan — compared to 43% for Trump and 41% for Biden. 

It may not seem like much, but even that 5% could ultimately decide the presidency, especially if momentum grows. Plus, Kennedy isn't the only third-party candidate in the running.

RFK Jr. eyes Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura for vice president pick
RFK Jr. eyes Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura for vice president pick

RFK Jr. eyes Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura for vice president pick

One of these well-known names may appear alongside Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s on the independent presidential ticket.

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A group known as "No Labels" revealed in recent days that they've selected a group of leaders to actively recruit a new third-party ticket of their own. Among the group's leaders is former senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman.

However, the challenge any independent candidate faces is actually getting their name on the ballot. And time is of the essence.

In some states, the deadline has already passed. In others, it is quickly approaching.

As of February, No labels has only qualified for the ballot in 13 states.

Regardless, both the Biden and Trump campaigns are taking the threat of a third-party challenge this November seriously. The Democratic National Committee is even building a team to combat the rise of independent candidates.

Meanwhile, serious third-party challenges have been rare in recent political history. 

Ross Perot launched one in 1992 and 1996. While he did make debate stages, he never won a single electoral college vote.