Friday, July 12, 2024

Many voters consider third-party candidates in 2024 Presidential election


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Featured photo via Sidelines Archives, by Austin Lewis

Story by Hannah Ferreria

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It would take unprecedented and incredibly dramatic political upheaval for a third-party or independent candidate to ever even come close to winning the presidency.

But with the United States’ intense polarization and an ever-growing push for alternatives to the current major parties, these outside forces have presented themselves to the public, even if they face significant political and legal hurdles.

Despite the ease with which incumbent Joseph Biden and former President Donald Trump have secured their respective party’s nominations, a significant portion of voters are dissatisfied with both.

According to Pew Research, about “a quarter of Americans hold unfavorable views of both Trump and Biden.”

This may lead to a significant amount of registered voters to look for someone else to vote for, even if chances of victory are slim.

It is hardly a new idea, though one that has yet to result in victory for one of these alternatives.

The two-party system has had an iron grip on our nation’s politics for a long time, essentially since its founding. Therefore, it is not likely to be disrupted anytime soon, which is why voting third-party is so controversial.

Most feel obligated to choose what they see as the lesser of two evils in order to not throw their vote away, even if they truly dislike both main candidates.

Some voters have one or two key concerns with any candidate that they consider, like their position on climate change or abortion, and see a need to make their vote count toward a candidate that would actually be able to enact change.

It’s also difficult for third-party candidates to gain any sort of political traction.

Without the backing of a major political party with significant interest in helping them to victory, and the resources to help them do so, their victories, even in local politics, are few and far between.

The most significant thing that any third-party candidate is likely to do is raise controversy by highlighting an issue more overlooked by the major candidates.

There’s recent talk of the controversial Robert F. Kennedy Jr. running as a libertarian. If he chooses to continue running as an independent, he faces an uphill battle just making it onto the ballot, which is key to gaining any sort of traction.

He could fare much better in the race for presidency in the fall as a nominal libertarian, as the recognizable face of a well-established political organization.

He holds stances on the environment, racial reconciliation, and labor that could appeal to liberals and moderates. However, he’s most well-known for his opposition to vaccine mandates and firm support of Israel, which makes him highly unlikely to appeal to Democrats who are dissatisfied with Biden.

But some libertarians and conservatives alike may find his stances attractive enough to vote for him instead of Trump.

He is not likely to win either way but could certainly siphon votes away from either of the major candidates by attracting their less-committed voters.

Other third-party organizations or candidates attempting to get on as many ballots as they can are a bipartisan group called No Labels, the Green Party and Cornel West.

No Labels has not been able to secure a candidate to put on the ballot. Combined with the stress of meeting deadlines to secure ballot access across the nation, they are unlikely to make as big of an impact as originally hoped.

The Green Party has not yet announced a candidate, though Jill Stein is the frontrunner.

Cornel West is running as an independent, and poses his most significant threat to Biden, with his progressive platform largely based on various facets of social justice.

Most all of these possibilities are more of a concern for Biden than they are for Trump. Even with just a few percentage points overall, drawing Democrats away from the already unpopular incumbent president to more progressive options could help tip the scales in Trump’s favor in battleground states.

Trump’s ardent supporters are unlikely to be swayed by Kennedy Jr. or anybody else.

Though none of these candidates or parties will win the presidency, or even make it on the ballot in enough states to be significant, they certainly play an important role in bringing attention to issues that sometimes are not discussed enough, and forcing voters to reconsider their priorities in elected officials.

Hannah Ferreira is a contributing writer for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact News Editor Alyssa Williams and Assistant News Editor Zoe Naylor, email

For more news, visit, and follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on X and Instagram at @mtsusidelines. Also, sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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