How RFK Jr., Libertarian Party could team up to help his ballot access — if he reverses a previous refusal


(WASHINGTON) — Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has previously ruled out joining the Libertarian Party — but as he prepares to speak at the party’s national convention on Friday, there’s speculation that they could join forces in a move that could be a boon to Kennedy’s ballot-access efforts.

In April, Kennedy told ABC News that “we’re not gonna have any problems getting on the ballot ourselves so we won’t be running Libertarian.”

But the Libertarian Party, whose national convention takes place in D.C. this weekend and culminates with the party’s delegates voting on Sunday to determine who it will nominate for the party’s presidential ticket, had openly explored the possibility of nominating Kennedy as its candidate.

If the party’s delegates vote for Kennedy, and if Kennedy reconsiders his recalcitrance to join with the party, it would mean he could possibly get on the ballot in enough states to theoretically net the 270 Electoral College votes needed to potentially qualify for the presidential debate state — and even win the presidency.

ABC News has confirmed, through state election offices’ websites or spokespeople, that the Libertarian Party has 2024 election ballot access in at least 37 states, including key battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania and Arizona.

With those 37 states, the party’s nominee could theoretically get a maximum of 380 Electoral College votes if the candidate won them all.

The Libertarian Party has previously qualified for the ballot in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., in some previous elections, including the 2020 election. Candidates and parties alike still have time to qualify for many state ballots, with some deadlines months away and some filing windows not even open yet.

The Libertarian Party’s 37 confirmed states is more than double the 15 states where the Kennedy campaign currently says it has taken the steps to make in on the ballot. Those states are Utah, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Nevada, Michigan, North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa, California, Delaware, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and New Jersey.

Elections offices in five of those states — Utah, Michigan, Hawaii, Delaware, and Oklahoma — have confirmed so far to ABC News that Kennedy or the party his campaign launched, “We the People,” has qualified for the ballot.

Kennedy has ballot access in three additional states — Georgia, Arizona and South Carolina — thanks to the American Values 2024 super PAC, which supports Kennedy but cannot coordinate directly with the campaign.

With those 18 states, Kennedy could theoretically get a total of 237 Electoral College votes.

Having a path to 270 Electoral College votes is among the criteria needed to qualify for the upcoming June 27 presidential debate, which will air on CNN.

There are other requirements as well, including polling thresholds. Both CNN and ABC News, for its own upcoming debate, are also requiring candidates to place at 15% in four separate national polls in a specific window as part of their respective debate qualification requirements.

Kennedy may be close to achieving the polling requirement by CNN’s standards. A national poll from Marquette University Law School published Thursday found former President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump effectively tied among registered voters in a five-way theoretical matchup, while Kennedy netted 17%.

The Marquette poll was likely the third poll that could help Kennedy qualify, after he polled over 15% in two April polls — from CNN/SSRS and Quinnipiac University, respectively — that also fall within CNN’s stated window.

ABC News’ Will McDuffie, Brittany Shepherd, Isabella Murray, and Soorin Kim, and 538’s Geoffrey Skelley, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.