US elections 2024: Who is running for president?

As the US presidential campaign heats up, Al Jazeera looks at confirmed and likely candidates ahead of November 2024.

Campaign signs for Biden and Trump during the 2020 election.
The 2024 vote could pit US President Joe Biden against his Republican rival, Donald Trump, for a second time [File: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

With US President Joe Biden announcing his widely anticipated re-election bid, the 2024 United States presidential race is heating up.

His predecessor, former President Donald Trump, formally launched his campaign in November, setting the stage for a potential rematch of the 2020 elections that Biden won over his Republican rival.

With the sitting president poised to be the Democratic nominee and Trump the early GOP frontrunner, the US’s two main political parties will launch a process next year to formally choose a 2024 nominee to vie for the White House.

On the Democratic side, only two long-shot candidates have entered the race to challenge Biden, while a number of Republicans have thrown their hats into the ring to compete against Trump for the GOP nomination, with more expected.

Here, Al Jazeera looks at the list of confirmed and expected US presidential candidates, their platforms and their chances.

Democratic Party

Joe Biden

Biden, who defeated Trump in the 2020 election, appealed to American voters on April 25 to help him defend democracy and “finish the job” he began in his first term. “When I ran for president four years ago, I said we’re in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are,” he said in a video announcing his re-election campaign.

“Let’s finish this job. I know we can,” he said.

An Associated Press-NORC poll released in mid-April showed that about half of Democratic voters wanted Biden to run again, with about 80 percent saying they would support him against a Republican candidate.

Despite a thin Democratic majority in the US Senate and a House of Representatives that switched to Republican control under his watch, Biden has enjoyed a fairly productive presidency. Several of his legislative priorities, including heightened spending to combat climate change and bolster US infrastructure, passed through Congress early in his first term.

However, Biden has been hampered by concerns over his age: He would be 82 years old at the beginning of his second term if he wins the 2024 election. Some critics have questioned whether he has the stamina to hold the top post for another four years.

US President Joe Biden
Biden is expected to launch his re-election campaign as early as this week [File: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

Marianne Williamson

Williamson, a former self-help author, unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in 2020, and announced in March she would run again.

A Morning Consult poll in early March found Williamson trailing Biden among Democratic voters by a sizable deficit of about 73 percentage points.

Williamson has embraced themes of economic and racial justice, calling for the preservation of social security, more robust support for labour unions and slavery reparations for Black Americans.

“During the last fifty years the system has been rigged,” Williamson says on her website.

“From tax cuts for the wealthy to endless corporate subsidies to the privatization of almost everything; from union busting to obsessive deregulation to a decrease in public spending — economic opportunities had been stripped from America’s average worker.”

Marianne Williamson
Williamson (left) unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination in 2020 [File: Meg Kinnard/AP Photo]

Robert F Kennedy Jr

Kennedy, an anti-vaccine activist and nephew of former US President John F Kennedy, formally launched his candidacy in April.

He has garnered the support of about 14 percent of Democratic primary voters, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll that same month.

A member of one of the most famous families in US politics, Kennedy — the son of Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination — has become a prominent voice in the anti-vaccine movement.

He published a book in 2021 accusing former White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci of “a historic coup d’etat against Western democracy”.

Kennedy has promised to push back against the “corrupt merger between state and corporate power” if elected.

Robert F Kennedy Jr stands in front of hundreds of protesters during an anti-vaccine rally.
Robert F Kennedy Jr (left) is a prominent voice in the anti-vaccine movement [File: Ted S Warren/AP Photo]

Republican Party

Donald Trump

Trump, who served one term as US president after defeating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, formally launched his campaign in November.

Following his loss to Biden in 2020, Trump attempted to overturn the election results by falsely claiming that the vote had been “rigged” against him.

Critics say his false election fraud campaign spurred a mob of supporters to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election victory. Trump was later impeached by the US House of Representatives for “inciting” the riot.

Trump, a former businessman and television personality, also continues to face a long list of legal issues and investigations, and in early April, he became the first former president to face criminal charges.

However, Trump — adept at tapping into anger against the US political establishment — holds a lead over his rivals for the Republican nomination and still commands widespread influence over the party’s voters.

He has struck a populist tone on topics such as free trade and foreign policy, where he has pursued an “America First” strategy, and has leaned into far-right rhetoric targeting immigrants and Muslims.

During his time as president, however, Trump mostly governed as a traditional Republican, and his signature legislative achievement was a set of tax breaks that largely benefitted the wealthy.

Trump at a podium that reads: "Text Trump to 88022, Trump, Make America Great Again"
Former President Donald Trump addresses supporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort [File: Marco Bello/Reuters]

Ron DeSantis

DeSantis, the governor of Florida who is widely considered Trump’s top challenger for the 2024 nomination, launched his presidential campaign in May after months of unofficial campaigning.

His highly anticipated announcement, which he delivered on Twitter, was hampered by technical difficulties that led rivals – including Biden – to mock the governor’s campaign early on.

DeSantis has been rising to prominence in conservative circles as he champions right-wing causes in Florida on issues including abortion, education and COVID-19 mitigation measures.

“Merit must trump identity politics,” DeSantis said during the campaign launch on May 24.

In March, DeSantis described the war in Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” that is not a top national security interest of the United States, drawing questions about what a potential presidential victory would mean for Washington’s support to Kyiv amid the Russian invasion.

According to recent public opinion polls, Trump enjoys a huge lead over DeSantis nationally as well as in early primary states.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd at Adventure Outdoors gun store on March 30 in Smyrna, Georgia [File: John Bazemore/AP Photo]

Mike Pence

Pence, who served as Trump’s vice president, has said he is considering a 2024 presidential run, telling ABC News last year that he is giving the issue “prayerful consideration”.

Pence had been a staunch defender of the former president but fell out with Trump after he refused to use his ceremonial role overseeing the electoral college count in Congress to overturn the 2020 elections.

Before becoming vice president, Pence was the governor of Indiana. He also served in the US House of Representatives.

He has been one of the most vocal supporters of US aid to Ukraine among Republican presidential hopefuls.

Pence, who has centred his Christian faith in his political career, is also a strong proponent of the fight against abortion rights. He said in April that he would take the abortion pill mifepristone off the market to “protect the unborn”.

Mike Pence speaks into a microphone at the Heritage Foundation
Pence, a former Indiana governor, served as vice president in Trump’s administration [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

Nikki Haley

Haley, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, announced that she would seek the Republican nomination in February.

A poll from Morning Consult released in mid-April showed her polling at about four percent.

While Haley has been reserved in her criticism of Trump, she stated in her announcement that it was “time for a new generation” of Republican leaders.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, she served as the governor of the state of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017.

As Washington’s envoy to the UN during the Trump administration, she advocated for taking a confrontational stance towards Iran and was a strong supporter of US allies in the region, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Nikki Haley
Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign rally in South Carolina in April 2023 [Meg Kinnard/AP Photo]

Tim Scott

A Republican senator from South Carolina, Scott officially launched his campaign in May, promising a “revolution for excellence” in the country’s education system.

Scott, who is the only Black Republican in the US Senate, often stresses that the US is not a racist country, portraying his own rise from humble beginnings to the US Senate as evidence that America is “the land of opportunity, and not a land of oppression”.

In his campaign announcement, Scott centred his personal story and presented an optimistic vision for the future. “Our party and our nation are standing at a time for choosing victimhood or victory,” he said.

The senator also suggested that he would be better positioned than rivals to appeal to voters outside the Republican base.

Before being appointed to the Senate by then-Governor Haley in 2012 to fill a vacancy, Scott served in the US House of Representatives. The senator supports reducing taxes and greater funding for law enforcement.

US Senator Tim Scott
‘America is not a racist country,’ US Senator Tim Scott said in 2021 [File: Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo]

Vivek Ramaswamy

Ramaswamy entered the presidential race in February. An entrepreneur and author, he has built a reputation as a crusader against “wokeism”, a loose term that generally refers to a commitment to social justice but has been wielded by conservatives to paint an image of political correctness gone amok.

The April Morning Consult poll showed Ramaswamy polling at about three percent in the Republican primary.

Ramaswamy was born in the state of Ohio and graduated from Yale Law School before going to work at a hedge fund and starting a pharmaceutical company.

His campaign website notes that he has been called the “CEO of anti-woke”.

 Vivek Ramaswamy
Ramaswamy speaks with reporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March 2023 [File: Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

Asa Hutchinson

Hutchinson announced his intention to run on April 2 and launched his campaign on the 26th. He is a former Republican governor of the state of Arkansas, where he served from 2015 until 2023.

His profile on the National Governors Association website states that he previously served three terms as a US congressman and undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the tenure of former president George W Bush.

The Morning Consult poll shows him with zero percent of the vote.

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson speaks at the National Rifle Association Convention in April 2023 [Darron Cummings/AP Photo]

Larry Elder

Elder announced his run for the presidency on April 20. He is a conservative radio talk show host who was the most serious candidate in an effort to replace California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall vote in 2021.

Newsom easily beat back that recall attempt, which failed by a margin of about 62 to 38 percent.

The Black radio host has denied that there is such a thing as systemic racism in the US.

When he announced his candidacy in April, he said the country was in decline but could enter “a new golden age”.

He does not yet appear in primary polling but is considered a long-shot candidate.

Larry Elder dances with supporters who are holding a campaign banner and a large cutout of his face.
Elder’s supporters gather as polls closed in the California gubernatorial recall election in 2021 [File: Ashley Landis/AP Photo]

This article was last updated on May 22, 2023.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies