The race for the next US presidency is hotting up. We have already seen several primaries take place and many dropping out as a result of that.
Who is running?
The key candidates are as follows:
For the Democrats
- the incumbent, Mr Joe Biden has said he intends to seek another term
- Dean Phillipps from Minnesota is running but wants the party to look forward with new leadership and
- Marianne Williamson was the first to launch a challenge to Joe Biden when she announced her bid for the White House in March, she has a self-help author and also ran in 2020 – but the, dropped out.
On the Republican side, the leading contender is:
- the former President Trump, who seems to have an unaccountable hold over his fan base. He won the recent Iowa primary beating
- Vivek Ramaswami
- Ron DeSantis and
- Nikki Haley.
As a result of that Ron DeSantis and Ramaswami pulled out – but Nikki Haley is still there.
There are also several independents running:
- a scion of the Kennedy clan, Robert F Kennedy Junior, who is well known as an anti-vaccine activist and is the nephew of John F. Kennedy and the son of Robert Kennedy
- Connell West who is a professor, who was the Green candidate
- we also have Jill Stein now running as Green Party candidate
in addition, many have dropped out since the race began:
- Ron DeSantis Governor, Florida dropped out recently following his push against Trump in the Iowa voting, however, he did come ahead of Nikki Haley
- Asa Hutchison is a former governor of Arkansas, but he polled rather badly
- Ramaswami is a bio-tech entrepreneur who declared in February, but he didn’t keep up his momentum
- Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, was a close Trump ally then became a fierce critic
- Doug Burgum – Governor of North Dakota started – running in June but got no traction so he pulled out completely
- Tim Scott of South Carolina again got no traction
- Mike Pence former Vice President also pulled out despite focusing his campaign on Iowa
- Larry Elder, is a talk show host but he never made any significant impression and dropped out in October 2023
- Francis Suarez The mayor of Miami and a moderate Republican did not get enough momentum and has endorsed Haley
The field for the Grand Ol’ Party (GOP) was as high as 14 but, following all the drop outs, it is now down to two – Trump and Haley – and they go head-to-head in the next vote in New Hampshire. This will be followed by South Carolina – where Nikki Haley used to be Governor before moving on to be Ambassador to the UN. It is felt that if she cannot do well, in what is effectively her home state, then her campaign will be finished. Donald Trump’s support base remains an enigma to many globally, to Democrats, and even to many in the Republican party. With something like 90 charges hanging over him he remains incredibly popular with his support base (MAGAMan and MagaWoman) and each new charge seems to entrench his support further!
On the Democrat side, Joe Biden, as the incumbent, announced that he wanted to run for a further term: but polling amongst Democrats has consistently showed concern about his age and that they do not think he should run. Whether they will buckle down and support him though remains to be seen but is thought probable. There was a lot of talk about a few Biden alternatives, but the landscape has changed since then.
Dean Phillips, the representative for Minnesota is still in the race for the Democrats. He is the newest candidate who only joined the race in October, having filed his papers on the last possible day. He is running on a pitch for the future and as the new generation. He is a moderate, but is not considered a serious contender – at least not by the Biden team.
Marianne Williamson was the first Democrat to launch a challenge against Biden way back in March last year. She also ran for president in 2020, but dropped out very early on. Her pitch is that Democrat voters understand what Biden had accomplished, but also want to move on from him as the party leader and thus next President. She is considered to be a longshot to win the nomination and her campaign has been in trouble with many staff leaving.
On the independent side, Robert F Kennedy Junior, who is an attorney and also a well-known anti-vaccine activist and is running for President on an independent tab. Originally, he was going to run as a Democrat but in October he changed his mind, for reasons which remain unclear, to become an independent. He sees the combination of state power and corporates as poisoning children with chemicals and drugs and is a well-known anti-Vaxxer. He is a bit left-field and he is not considered at all likely to win the Presidency, but he could take votes from both sides: as the Kennedy name still has significant profile and drawing power in the country at large.
Cornel West was the green candidate and is considered to be a progressive academic. And a Demagogue. He was originally running as the Peoples Party, then changed his mind to run as the Green Party candidate and then changed it yet again and is now running as a non-party independent. This sort of flip-flopping, however, does not go down too well with voters. He is considered to be unlikely to get anywhere and is effectively being ignored. However, there is a concern he could move some progressive votes away from Joe Biden.
Finally, there is Jill Stein. She has taken over the green vacancy from Cornell West and her pitch is a to give people a chance to vote for another party other than the two parties in what she calls the failed two-party system. She is taking a left-wing, pro worker, anti-war, climate emergency stance. She is not considered likely to win. She was also criticised by many Democrats for her bid in 2016, when she was thought to have taken a lot of votes from Hillary Clinton‘s campaign. Hillary Clinton, they say, lost the election with many of the state margins being below the number of votes given to Jill Stein – but all is fair in love, war and politics. Or not!
Then there are the many who have dropped out.
- Ron DeSantis is the latest to dropout despite having done reasonably well in Iowa. He did position himself as a leader of the battles over cultural issues, diversity and free speech and he was initially quite close behind Trump in the polls, but then Trump expanded his lead and DeSantis’ momentum fell away. He suspended his campaign just before the New Hampshire primary and endorsed ex-President Trump fully
- Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas, has called for Trump to drop out following all the charges brought against him. He never built up any momentum and he got less than half a percent in Iowa and withdrew just after that
- Vivek Ramaswami, a person of whom no one had ever heard, is a biotech entrepreneur, and sets his pitch as an anti-woke campaigner. He dropped out after the Iowa vote and endorsed President Trump
- Larry Elder is a radio talk show host. He unsuccessfully challenged the Governor of California, during a recall attempt. He failed to make any impression with the voters – he didn’t bother with the first and second Republican debates and dropped out
- Francis Suarez, is the mayor of Miami and son of the former Mayor who was the third Florida resident to throw his hat into the ring along with Trump and DeSantis, but he was virtually unknown outside Miami, didn’t take part in any debates, and dropped out – becoming the first candidate so to do
- Will Hurd from Texas is a moderate and wanted to position himself to bring people together and reduce partisanship. He criticised, both Biden and Trump calling Trump ‘A selfish failed politician’ but failed to get any traction and has subsequently endorsed Nikki Haley
- Chris Christie, a former ally of Trump and a ‘larger than life’ figure, was the Governor of New Jersey has become a Trump critic. He tried a bid in 2016 and then made another one in 2024 however, he struggled to get any votes and dropped out just before the Iowa vote. He said he would now work to ensure Trump is not re-elected he called on his other competitors, DeSantis and Haley, to attack Trump
- Doug Burgum, who is the governor of North Dakota, announced his bid in June last year. He said the country needed new leadership, but he did not attract many votes for his longshot bid, and dropped out in December having failed to get any more than 1% or 2%
- Tim Scott from South Carolina seemed to have been viewed favourably by Republicans but failed to get many votes and he suspended his campaign some time ago. He’s the only black Republican Senator and was hoping to ‘do an Obama’. However, it is thought likely he will stand next time
- Mike Pence, a former Vice President, joined the race in June and was polling reasonably at 10% support as a Trump alternative: but then fell behind Nikki Haley. His fundraising dwindled and he couldn’t qualify for the third debate. He feels that Trump should be disqualified due to the charges against him. It is thought likely that his votes will go to Haley.
AI and bots to impact the election?
There is concern that the use of artificial intelligence and bots may have an impact on elections in the US. For example, recently a fake video claiming to show Joe Biden telling voters not to vote in the New Hampshire primary was circulated round. It is not clear who did this and the Republicans have denied having anything to do with it – but it is a concern for all democracies moving forward.
All eyes will be on the next Republican vote in the ‘Granite’ state – where the two remaining GOP candidates are going head-to-head. Haley has high hopes having campaigned long and hard there. If, however, she fails to do well there and in South Carolina, it will virtually guarantee the Trump nomination.
Haley, it is felt would have been better off if DeSantis and Ramaswami had stayed in as their votes will now likely go to Trump. Absent that she was relying on the GOP votes fracturing amongst those three and then picking up the majority of independent votes. She is expected to pick up Christie’s votes, but DeSantis’ votes will largely go to Trump and, as he was also polling strongly in South Carolina – and that could be the death knell for her bid.
There is also the troubling issue for many, both within the US and outside of it, about the probability that the final two candidates in the actual Presidential election will be a 77-year-old and an 81-year-old. This is causing concern about the ability of either to hold this stressful office properly, however, it does not seem to be a particular concern of the American voters, despite real concerns over Joe Biden’s recent stumbling performances, and we will see what happens over the coming primary and weeks.