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US election 2024: what to expect

The 2024 election promises to be historic as Republicans seek to oust incumbent President Joe Biden, according to Reuters.

After a pandemic four years ago changed campaign and voting methods, and three years after thousands of rioters staged a violent protest at the nation’s Capitol, overturning the results of the last election, the US will face new obstacles to the democratic process.

THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES

  • Trump, 77, dominates the ranks of Republicans who have largely avoided criticising his handling of the 2020 election for fear of alienating his ardent supporters. Many of those supporters believe Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him.
  • His Republican rivals, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, conversely argue that Trump’s legal troubles will stick him in the polls.
  • One exception was former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who condemned Trump’s attempts to undermine the 2020 election. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a likely candidate, said Trump is unfit for office.
  • Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, a newcomer to politics, is running as the heir to Trump’s populist “America First” agenda, which is wary of an expanded federal government, corporate power and international alliances.
  • US Senator Tim Scott and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum are also seeking the nomination but have been unsuccessful, according to Reuters.

THE DEMOCRATS CANDIDATES

  • Democratic leaders and big donors are backing Biden and his vice presidential running mate Kamala Harris.
  • Dean Phillips, a little-known congressman from Minnesota, announced in October that he intends to challenge Biden because he doesn’t believe the president can make it to another term.
  • Joe Biden is the likely Democratic nominee for the 2024 presidential election. He announced his campaign for re-election on 25 April, exactly four years after he announced his previous successful presidential campaign. Although Biden’s approval rating remains low at just over 40 per cent, political pundits consider him the most likely candidate to defeat Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. Biden has been in politics for more than five decades and has a candidacy that includes abortion rights, gun reform and health care. At 81, he is the oldest president in US history.
  • Self-help book author and speaker Marianne Williamson is also running against Biden.

THE INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES

  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr, heir to a famous American political family and anti-vaccination activist has launched an independent candidacy. Kennedy enjoys some popularity among both Republicans and Democrats who are not interested in another Biden/Trump showdown.
  • Progressive activist Cornel West has also said he will run as an independent candidate. Both candidates need to gather enough support to get on the ballot in all 50 states next year, Reuters reports.

THE KEY ISSUES

  • Economy: The Biden administration is trying to convince Americans that the US economy is in good shape, inflation is slowing and unemployment is at its lowest level in half a century.

Republicans say they will cut federal spending, which they accuse of fuelling inflation and triggering consumer price spikes, reduce federal regulation and cut taxes.

Democrats argue the economy is healthy, wages are rising and infrastructure investments are providing long-term job growth.

Voters remain unconvinced. According to a September Reuters/Ipsos poll, 27% of 2020 voters favoured by Biden said their financial situation is “weaker” than before the pandemic, compared with 28% who said it was “better” and 42% who said it was “about the same.”

  • Immigration: Since taking office in 2021, Biden has had to deal with a record number of migrants caught crossing the US-Mexico border illegally, overwhelming resources at the border and in the cities where they have travelled, such as New York and Chicago. Republican candidates, including Trump, have accused Biden of backing away from Trump’s more restrictive policies and pledging to increase border security.

Some Democrats have criticised Biden for turning to Trump-style enforcement to reduce illegal border crossings, while the White House says it is moving to a more humane and streamlined system by offering migrants new ways to enter legally.

  • Crime: The country’s violent crime rate remains higher than in 2019.Both parties are concerned about this, with 88 per cent of respondents in a September Reuters/Ipsos poll saying crime will be an important issue in determining who gets their votes.
  • Foreign Policy: China has emerged as the top foreign policy issue of the campaign. Republicans say the Asian power poses a growing threat to national security, U.S. corporate interests and Taiwan’s independence.

The Biden administration has said it wants to “de-risk” rather than “de-couple its relationship with China and work to ensure that the competition between the world’s first and second economic powers does not escalate into conflict.

  • Ukraine is another major issue that has sown discord in the Republican Party. Trump and DeSantis argue that Biden’s support for Ukraine in its war distracts the US from preparing for a possible confrontation with China. Other Republican candidates, such as Haley, believe the US should continue to provide military aid to Ukraine, according to Reuters.
  • The sudden escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas has injected a new polarising issue into the election campaign. Biden, a strong supporter of Israel, faces dissent from many Democrats concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Republicans also support Israel and use the conflict to push for a stronger US-Mexico border.
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