Meet the independent candidates running for president: RFK Jr., Jill Stein and Cornel West

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will face each other in the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 5 in what looks set to be a bitter and closely fought contest. Several third-party and independent hopefuls, including contenders Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein are also running.

But has anyone won the White House as an independent? Surprising, yes.

George Washington was the first and only independent candidate to win the U.S. presidency. While he supported the Federalist policies, Washington never joined a political party, being openly against party affiliation.

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2024 independent candidates for the 2024 U.S. presidential election:

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An anti-vaccine activist and environmental advocate, Kennedy, 70, is running as an independent after initially challenging Biden for the Democratic nomination.

While he lags in overall polling, Kennedy could siphon votes from Trump and Biden. A May Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 13% of respondents backed him.

Kennedy’s campaign has said he is officially on the ballot in a handful of states so far, including California, Michigan and Utah, although he faces a challenging, costly battle to be listed in all 50.


The political activist, philosopher and academic is making a third-party bid for president that is most likely to appeal to progressive, Democratic-leaning voters.

West, 70, initially ran as a Green Party candidate, but in October said people “want good policies over partisan politics” and announced his bid as an independent. He has promised to end poverty and guarantee housing.


Jill Stein, a physician who ran under the Green Party in 2016, is trying once again in 2024.

She launched her current campaign accusing Democrats of betraying their promises “for working people, youth and the climate again and again - while Republicans don’t even make such promises in the first place.”

Stein, 74, raised millions of dollars for recounts after Trump’s surprise 2016 victory. Her allegations yielded only one electoral review in Wisconsin, which showed Trump had won.

Reuters contributed to the reporting of this story

Victor Hagan is the Alabama Election Reporting Fellow for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at or on X @TheVictorHagan. To support his work, subscribe to the Advertiser.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Has an third party candidate ever become president?