EXPLAINER-What you need to know about the 2024 US presidential election

National opinion polls show Trump locked in a tight race with Biden in a head-to-head matchup, with voters concerned about Biden's age, his handling of the economy and the surge of migrants crossing illegally at the U.S. southern border, despite job growth, infrastructure investment and a slow easing of inflation after last year's peak.

Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 01-03-2024 02:37 IST | Created: 01-03-2024 02:05 IST
EXPLAINER-What you need to know about the 2024 US presidential election
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The 2024 U.S. presidential election promises to be like no other in modern times. Former President Donald Trump, who faces a battery of federal and state criminal charges related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, is on the cusp of winning the Republican nomination.

Biden, the incumbent president, is the expected Democratic nominee. At 81, he would be the oldest American to win a presidential election should he clinch a second four-year term in November. WHO ARE THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR U.S. PRESIDENT IN 2024? Trump, 77, dominated the Republican field, which largely avoided criticizing him for his actions related to the 2020 election for fear of alienating his base of diehard supporters. Many of those supporters believe Trump's false claims that the election was stolen from him. His remaining Republican rival, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, has argued that Trump’s legal woes will hamstring him in a general-election fight against Biden and that she would perform better in that matchup. Haley gained some momentum following strong debate performances. But she finished third in Iowa and then well behind Trump in the New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan primaries.

She has pointed to the fact that she gained around 40% or more of the vote in both New Hampshire and South Carolina as evidence that a large share of the Republican electorate is unhappy with Trump. But that discontent hasn't made Haley competitive in terms of winning delegates to the Republican convention. National opinion polls show Trump locked in a tight race with Biden in a head-to-head matchup, with voters concerned about Biden's age, his handling of the economy and the surge of migrants crossing illegally at the U.S. southern border, despite job growth, infrastructure investment and a slow easing of inflation after last year's peak. Many Democrats, in particular, are unhappy with the Biden's administration's steadfast support of Israel in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Trump faces indictments in four cases in federal and state courts for his efforts to undermine the 2020 election, his mishandling of classified documents and his involvement in a “hush money” scheme involving a porn star. He has maintained his innocence and argued he is the victim of politically motivated prosecutions, an assertion the Biden administration and other prosecutors deny. The legal calendars for those cases pose obstacles for Trump's ability to campaign, although the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear Trump's presidential immunity claim related to his federal election interference case could delay that trial indefinitely. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Dec. 19 that Trump is barred from appearing on the state Republican primary ballot because he engaged in insurrection in violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The decision only applied to Colorado but emboldened other state courts such as one in Illinois to rule similarly; in Maine, the secretary of state removed him from the ballot. The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled on Trump's appeal but appeared skeptical of the ballot disqualification effort.

WHO ARE THE DEMOCRATS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? While voters may not be enthusiastic, Democratic leaders and major donors are backing Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris. Dean Phillips, a little-known U.S. congressman from Minnesota, announced in October he would mount a long-shot challenge to Biden because he does not believe the president can win another term. Self-help author and speaker Marianne Williamson ended her own long-shot bid in early February but has since restarted it. Biden's pitch for a second term rests on his stewardship of the economy as it has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, and what he calls the "battle for the soul of America," a fight against Trump-aligned Republicans whom he labels as extremists. Under Biden, unemployment dropped to generational lows, gross domestic product (GDP) grew faster than expected and wages have risen. However, inflation spiked last year, and, while it has eased in recent months, voters remain concerned about the high price of staples such as food, fuel, cars and housing. Should Trump be the Republican nominee, much of Biden's campaign is likely to focus on warning voters that Trump poses a mortal threat to American democracy.

WHO ELSE IS RUNNING? Robert F. Kennedy Jr., scion of the famed American political family and an anti-vaccine activist, has launched an independent bid rather than challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination. Kennedy has shown some appeal among both Republicans and Democrats unenthused about another Biden-Trump matchup. Progressive activist Cornel West has also said he will run as an independent, and former presidential candidate Jill Stein has said she will seek the Green Party's nomination. The challenge for these candidates will be amassing enough support to land on the ballot in all 50 states.

WHEN ARE THE 2024 PRIMARIES HELD? Republicans held their first nominating contest on Jan. 15 with the Iowa caucuses, followed by contests in New Hampshire, Nevada, the Virgin Islands, South Carolina and Michigan. Trump has won all of them handily.

Super Tuesday comes on Tuesday, when 15 states, including California and Texas, and one territory will hold primaries or caucuses and 36% of all Republican delegates will be awarded. The first official Democratic primary took place on Feb. 3 in South Carolina, where Biden won big and stayed on a glide path to the nomination. He recently won the Michigan primary on Feb. 27, but faced a significant protest vote over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. At the close of the primaries, each party will nominate the candidate who receives the most delegates at their nominating conventions in the summer of 2024. Republicans will hold their convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, while Democrats will stage theirs in Chicago.

The general election will be held on Nov. 5, 2024. WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES? Abortion: Democrats plan to make abortion central to their 2024 campaign, with opinion polls showing most Americans don’t favor strict limits on reproductive rights. The issue has become more motivating to those who support abortion rights than to those who oppose them, and the party is hoping threats to those rights will encourage millions of women and independents to vote their way this year. The issue has divided Republicans, with some leaders concerned the party has gone too far with state-level restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in June 2022, ending constitutional protection for abortion.

The Economy: Biden’s White House is trying to reassure Americans that the economy is in solid shape, with inflation slowing and unemployment at its lowest levels in a half-century. Republicans say they will cut federal spending, which they blame for stoking inflation and triggering consumer-price spikes, trim back federal regulations, and lower taxes. Democrats argue the economy is healthy, wages are up and investments in infrastructure are producing long-term job gains. Voters remain unconvinced. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in January found that two-thirds of respondents, and 47% of Democrats, believe the country is on the "wrong track." Immigration: Since taking office in 2021, Biden has grappled with record numbers of migrants caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, straining resources there and in cities they have gone to, such as New York and Chicago. Republican candidates, including Trump, have blamed Biden for reversing more restrictive Trump-era policies, and have pledged to step up border security. Trump in February urged congressional Republicans to back away from a bipartisan bill that gave them many of the border-related measures, in order to avoid giving Biden a policy victory. The bill also provided for military aid to Ukraine, which Trump and some of his fellow Republicans also object to.

Some Democrats have criticized Biden for turning to Trump-style enforcement measures to reduce illegal crossings, while the White House maintains it is moving to a more humane and orderly system by offering new ways for migrants to enter legally. A Reuters-Ipsos poll in January found rising concern among Americans about immigration, with 17% of respondents listing it as the most important problem facing the U.S. today, up sharply from 11% in December.

Crime: Violent crime has mostly dropped back to levels seen before the COVID pandemic and unrest over racial justice. Even so, Americans of both parties remain concerned, with 88% of respondents in a December Reuters/Ipsos poll saying crime would be an important issue for determining who gets their vote. Foreign Policy: China has emerged as a potent foreign policy issue in the campaign, with Republicans arguing the Asian power is a growing threat to national security, U.S. corporate interests and Taiwan's independence.

The Biden administration has said it wants to "de-risk" and not "de-couple" its relationship with China and work to keep the competition between the world's No. 1 and No. 2 economic powers from escalating into conflict. Ukraine is another major issue and has split the Republican field. Trump argues Biden's support of Ukraine in its war with Russia is distracting the U.S. from preparing for a possible confrontation with China. Haley says the U.S. must continue to back Ukraine. Trump made waves in February when he suggested that the U.S. should not defend NATO countries that do not meet their obligations to contribute to their national defense. The eruption of Israeli-Hamas violence threw a polarizing new issue into the election campaign. Republicans also back Israel and are using the conflict to press for a stronger U.S.-Mexico border.

WHAT ARE THE KEY STATES IN THE 2024 GENERAL ELECTION? That both parties are holding their conventions in the Midwest says much about the value they are placing on Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which went for Trump in 2016 and flipped to Biden in 2020.

Arizona, Georgia and Nevada have also proven to be closely divided and contain growing populations that could determine the next election. Another key battleground next year could be North Carolina, a Southern state with an increasingly diverse electorate. For 2024 U.S. election stories, results and data: https://www.reuters.com/topic/event/us-elections/


(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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