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Calendar Days In 2024

Window is closing for any surprise 2024 candidates, but they could still emerge

The Republican 2024 presidential candidates and their campaigns have one eye on voters — and another on the calendar, as they face approaching deadlines to file for state primaries and caucuses.

Those include the cycle’s first one, this week, in Nevada. Other early-voting nominating states like New Hampshire and South Carolina have filing cutoffs at the end of October.

Once those dates come and go, it signals that the 2024 field is largely, but not necessarily completely, set.

Politicians who are floated as late-breaking candidates — including Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., or Virginia’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin — could theoretically still declare they are running for the White House and even, on paper, go on to win their party’s nominations even if they miss the cutoff for the early primary and caucus dates, experts told ABC News.

Early polling has consistently shown that former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are likely to win the 2024 Republican and Democratic nominations, respectively, ahead of a rematch next year.

Still, polling has also consistently shown that a notable number of voters are dissatisfied with that possibility, which one expert said was a dynamic fueling the number of other presidential hopefuls.

2024 Republican presidential candidates, from left, Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott and former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during a debate, Sept. 27, 2023, in Simi Valley, Calif.


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Trump is running in a crowded Republican primary field against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and others while Biden faces a long shot Democratic opponent in speaker Marianne Williamson.

Independents like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West are continuing their own outside campaigns.

Experts said that missing filing deadlines or joining the 2024 presidential race after some key benchmarks pass in early voting states would make it very challenging but not impossible to earn a presidential nomination.

Success as a late-entry candidate would depend on building momentum among voters despite not campaigning and gaining traction in the early states or being able to win any of their delegates, the experts said.

“If you have a lot of popularity … oomph you can still get the nomination, even though you missed the early primaries,” said Richard Winger, a ballot access expert and political analyst.

Delegates are awarded through caucuses and primaries where voters select their preferred presidential nominee. Those delegates will then go on to technically award the nomination at the national party conventions next year.

People wait in line at one of a few in-person voting places during a nearly all-mail primary election, June 9, 2020, in Las Vegas.

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How delegates are apportioned to candidates varies by state but, overall, a candidate must have a majority, or around 1,234 out of 2,467 delegates, to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

For Democrats, a presidential candidate needs to receive support from a majority of the pledged delegates on the first ballot: an estimated 1,886 pledged delegates out of 4,514 delegates.

Losing out on an early state’s share of delegates would not, mathematically, make a huge dent in the overall amount a candidate can receive. Primaries in delegate-rich states such as California, Florida and New York will be held later into 2024 compared with the relatively small amount of delegates awarded in smaller early states like Iowa and Nevada.

But Amy K. Dacey, executive director of the Sine Institute for Policy and Politics at American University in Washington, and the CEO of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 convention, told ABC News that “it’s not just the filing date” that matters for candidates.

“I think it’s a momentum issue as well,” Dacey said, referring to the boost in voter and media attention that traditionally accompanies the winners in Iowa, New Hampshire and on Super Tuesday, when many state primaries are held simultaneously.

White House hopefuls would “find it very hard to not be competitive and, in the immediate news cycle for those early states, to build momentum to build resources,” Dacey said.

That includes campaign infrastructure and enlisting volunteers, she said.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin addresses the Economic Club of Washington’s luncheon event at the Marriott Marquis, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington.


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During a discussion in Washington last month, Youngkin evaded a steady string of questions about the possibility that he might jump into the 2024 Republican primary for president.

“To have people throw my name around and as somebody who would potentially vie for, I think, the most revered and respected office in the world is hugely humbling,” he said, adding that he is focused on Virginia’s 2023 legislative elections.

A former governor may also be waiting in the wings, but not for the Republican ticket: Maryland’s Larry Hogan told Bloomberg News on Tuesday that he was open to running in 2024.

Hogan has previously indicated he would not seek a White House bid as a Republican but has left the door open to a third-party run. He is a national co-chair of the No Labels group that has floated the idea of a bipartisan “unity ticket” that would mix a presidential and vice presidential candidate from each major party.

Meanwhile Phillips, in a statement to ABC News, confirmed he spoke last week with New Hampshire Democratic leadership as he “contemplates” entering the primary there. The call was first reported by Politico.

“It was a very friendly conversation,” Phillips said.

Him running in the New Hampshire primary would have more symbolic than practical value, as national Democrats decided to change their 2024 primary calendar to deprioritize New Hampshire, whose voters they believe are less representative of the country overall.

New Hampshire Democrats have resisted that scheduling move, which will likely mean Biden — whose reelection bid is fully endorsed by the national party — won’t file to run in the state primary at all, potentially relying on write-in voters to win.

At least some of the state’s delegates are also likely to be stripped away if the state’s schedule doesn’t change.

Robert Kennedy speaks at a press conference on April 1, 1968 in New York.

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There is some precedent for candidates joining the race without qualifying to be on the ballot in early or key states.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg formally entered the 2020 presidential race as a Democrat in late November 2019 but did not file in New Hampshire.

Former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick also launched an unsuccessful bid that month, missing deadlines to file in Alabama and Arkansas.

An earlier example: Robert F. Kennedy, brother to slain President John F. Kennedy and who was then a U.S. senator from New York, announced his own run for president on March 16, 1968 — four days after the New Hampshire primary.

ABC News’ Chris Donovan, Rick Klein and Kelsey Walsh contributed to this report.