Independent Candidates Shake Up 2024 Presidential Race: A Look at Kennedy and West

As the prospect of a Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump rematch looms large, the rise of independent candidates injects a new dynamic into the 2024 presidential race. Both parties face significant challenges, leading to speculation about the role third-party and independent candidates could play in the upcoming election.

The Alternatives:

Third Parties: Traditionally represented by the Libertarian and Green Parties, third-party candidates have the potential to sway close elections, as seen in previous contests. The upcoming Libertarian Party convention in May and the Green Party convention in July will determine their nominees.

Independent Candidates: Notable figures like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West are running as independent candidates, bringing name recognition and alternative perspectives to the race. Kennedy, with the support of a well-funded super PAC, aims to secure ballot access in key states, while West focuses on a platform centered on social justice.

No Labels: A centrist group exploring the possibility of fielding a “unity” candidate, No Labels seeks to address frustration with the major parties. While no candidate has emerged yet, the group’s members will vote on whether to pursue this option.

Ballot Access and Polling:

Securing ballot access poses a significant challenge for independent candidates, as seen with Kanye West’s limited success in 2020. Kennedy’s campaign claims progress in swing states like Nevada and New Hampshire, with support from a super PAC aiding efforts in critical states like Arizona and Georgia.

West’s campaign has achieved ballot access in several states, including Alaska, Oregon, and South Carolina.

Polling data suggests varying levels of support for independent candidates, with Kennedy attracting attention from both Democrats and Republicans. However, polls that explicitly name third-party candidates tend to overstate their actual support.

Democratic Concerns:

Democrats express concern over the potential impact of independent candidates, particularly Robert F. Kennedy Jr., on Biden’s reelection prospects. Complaints about coordination between Kennedy’s campaign and supportive super PACs underscore Democratic opposition to his candidacy.

Kennedy’s candidacy raises alarm among Democrats, who fear it could siphon votes from Biden and undermine their electoral strategy.


The emergence of independent candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West adds complexity to the 2024 presidential race, challenging the dominance of the two major parties. While their influence remains uncertain, their presence underscores dissatisfaction with traditional party politics and the quest for alternative voices in American democracy.

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