News Editor Poppy Jacobs reports on an in-depth analysis of the US Presidential Election

Written by Poppy Jacobs
News editor and writer, covering news stories in Selly Oak and Edgbaston.

When is the vote, and who are the candidates?

On Tuesday 5th November 2024, Americans will head to the polls to elect their next president; the winner will begin their four-year term in January 2025.

The US party system, and the presidential campaign, is dominated by two “major” parties: the Democrats (liberal) and the Republicans, also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP) (conservative). Individuals can also stand as independents or “third-party” candidates (representing a “minor” party, like the Green Party).  Although the 2024 presidential campaign is already well underway, no official candidates have been selected by either party. Despite this, the 2024 US Presidential Election is shaping up to be a repeat of 2020, with the polls predicting Donald Trump will take on Joe Biden once again in November.

On Tuesday 5th November 2024, Americans will head to the polls to elect their next president; the winner will begin their four-year term in January 2025

How to get the presidential bid?

Primaries, caucuses – what does it all mean? These are two ways that the main parties begin the process of nominating their presidential candidate.

The majority of states across the US hold primaries; these are like mini-elections, where party members may cast their vote in secret throughout the day, either in person or by post. However, other (traditionally Republican states) hold caucuses instead; these are open meetings that must be attended in person and, unlike state-run primaries, are organised by the parties themselves. Caucuses are held in large venues across the state, and attendees listen to speeches made by delegates before casting their vote. Sometimes this is done by secret ballot, but may also be done by asking participants to divide themselves into groups according to the candidate they support (with undecideds forming their own group). Both primaries and caucuses can be ‘open’ or ‘closed’ – the former allowing anyone to take part, the latter restricted to party-registered voters. Generally, either both parties hold a caucus, or both parties hold a primary, per state, although there are exceptions.

The point of these events is to determine the number of delegates each candidate is awarded; a certain number of delegates are required to formally select the presidential nominee at each party’s national convention this summer. 

The campaign so far:

The presidential campaign began back in January with the Iowa Republican caucus. Historically, this plays a very significant role; those successful here tend to go on to be successful generally in the election. Trump dominated in Iowa, securing half the available delegates.

Prior to Super Tuesday, Trump won every Republican primary and caucus bar one – Washington, where he lost out to the only other remaining Republican candidate, Nikki Haley. Of the original Republican candidates, most dropped out before a single vote had been cast, and a further four have dropped out since primaries began, according to NBC news. At the time of writing, only Donald Trump and Nikki Haley remain in the Republican race, Of the three Democratic candidates, all are remaining, however Biden is dominating in the polls.

The 5th March, known as Super Tuesday, was a huge date in the campaign calendar, with one third of all available delegates for both major parties at stake. As predicted, both Trump and Biden dominated the votes in their respective parties, although Nikki Haley prevented a clean sweep for Trump with a victory in Vermont. Despite this, Trump’s widespread success means he may win a delegate majority by the end of this week.

The 5th March, known as Super Tuesday, was a huge date in the campaign calendar

Key debate topics

One major concern for many is the age of the candidates. Critics of Biden claim he is too old for a second term – at the end of which, he would be 86 – however similar concern can be directed at Trump, who would be 82 at the conclusion of a second term.

The topic of Trump’s criminal trial is also proving contentious. Mr Trump has already had to pay out millions of dollars in damages in a civil fraud case, and is currently facing 91 criminal counts across four indictments, with his trial expected to occur alongside his presidential campaign. If Trump will be convicted, and whether this will occur before the Republican national convention, is a particularly controversial topic in predicting the Republican candidate for the presidency. Trump’s run for presidency has been challenged by some states, however the Supreme Court determined on 3rd March that Trump was to remain in the election race as it stands.

Other key topics within the election campaign include common themes such as the economy, unemployment and the environment, however equality issues (such as attacks on LGBTQ+ rights) and most controversially, women’s right to abortion following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade last year, are proving controversial. Democracy is proving popular, following Trump’s declaration that the previous election was the result of electoral fraud, and international conflict, such as the Russia/Ukrainian war, and the war in Gaza, are also recurring discussion points.

What next?

The voting shall continue via primaries and caucuses until the national party conventions for the Republicans (15-18th July) and the Democrats (19-22nd Aug). Here, the official presidential candidates shall be chosen. Following this, a series of public presidential debates shall occur between the final candidates throughout the early autumn in an attempt to persuade voters to their cause. On 5th November, voters will cast their final ballot; candidates must secure a majority of 270 of 538 electoral votes to win. This result will determine the identity of 60th President of the United States.

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