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573 Days To Go: The Election Marathon Has Begun

While it may feel like the midterms just ended, the 2024 election cycle is already here.

It may only be the second quarter of 2023, but after several announcements today and this past week, it is clear 2024 is upon us.

Election 2024, that is.

Over the last few days, President Joe Biden said he is, indeed, running for a second White House term (though those remarks, made in an NBC News interview, still do not count as formal announcement); Democrats revealed they will hold their 2024 party convention in Chicago; and, just this morning, AXIOS broke the (much anticipated) news that Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has launched an exploratory committee for a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

There are still 573 days until the 2024 election, so a lot can change between now and November 5, 2024, but this week we will take a look at where the race for the White House — and the races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House — stand right now.

The Democratic Presidential Field

This past Monday President Joe Biden told NBC’s Al Roker, “I plan on running” for a second White House term, “But we’re not prepared to announce it yet.” As Politico noted, “It isn’t the first time the president has made clear his intentions, but his answer is further affirmation as Biden slips past his closest advisers’ previously outlined launch dates in February and, now, April.” (Politico also noted his announcement process so far is “on par for Biden, who has been known for dragging his feet on decisions around seeking the presidency.”)

While the incumbent president is “dragging his feet,” two other Democrats have formally announced they will challenge President Biden if he seeks the party’s nomination for president.

In February, Marianne Williamson announced her second bid for the White House. (Williamson also ran for president in 2020, but dropped out before voting began. She endorsed President Biden’s chief challenger, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after she left the race.) Williamson’s primary occupation is as a book author and speaker. She also is founder of Project Angel Food, a meal delivery service for individuals living with AIDS in Los Angeles.

Then, last week, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy (who was assassinated in June 1968, just two months before Democrats were set to have their party convention in Chicago) and the nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, announced he would challenge President Biden for the Democratic bid for president. The younger Kennedy is probably most known for his skepticism about vaccinations.

According to polling by Morning Consult released this week, neither of these candidates stand much of a chance against President Biden. Indeed, Morning Consult found that not even half of Democratic voter “had seen, read or heard at least something” about Kennedy’s decision to run for president. And “Kennedy is far better known than Williamson,” Morning Consult said. Morning Consult also found:

  • Seven in 10 potential Democratic primary voters said they would support President Biden in the Democratic nomination fight. Ten percent said they would vote for Kennedy and only four percent said they would vote for Williamson.

  • President Biden’s support among Democratic voters in the most recent survey was down from 77 percent in a survey conducted at the beginning of March, however.

  • President Biden’s numbers are weakest among women, young people, and people with less education. President Biden will need strong support among these groups in the 2024 general election if he wants to win a second term.

President Biden is not the first incumbent president to face a challenge from members of his own party. In fact, in 2020 former President Donald Trump faced three challengers for the Republican nomination: former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh. In 1992, Republican President George H.W. Bush was challenged by Pat Buchanan. And, as TIME noted in 2020, in the 19th century, four presidential incumbents were denied the nomination of their own party — John Tyler, Andrew Johnson and Chester A. Arthur.

Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) unanimously passed a resolution expressing their "full and complete support" for a second term for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. That means the DNC is unlikely to sanction any debates between these three candidates. Republicans, meanwhile, will have to sort things out on the debate stage.

The Republican Presidential Field

While Sen. Scott, who currently serves as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, has not yet formally decided whether or not he will make a run for the White House, four Republicans have taken that step.

The most famous of the GOP candidates is, of course, former President Donald Trump. He made it clear he was running back in November 2022. As CNN reported at the time, the former commander in chief is likely to focus on crime, the economy, and immigration as his top issues.

President Trump faces some strong headwinds. There are the legal issues, of course, but history also is not on his side. Only one president in U.S. history, President Grover Cleveland, has served non-consecutive terms in the White House. President Cleveland, a Democrat, lost his bid for reelection in 1888, but came back to win the White House again in 1892. Former President Trump’s approval ratings also have fallen far below where they were when he lost reelection in November 2020. According to a brand new ABC News/Ipsos survey, only 25 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the former president, down about 10 points from the day he left office in 2021.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and tech and finance entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy round out the list of Republicans who have formally announced they are running for the White House.

As NPR reported, Haley may be the only woman in the Republican 2024 presidential field. She served in the Trump administration (she was United Nations ambassador) and is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She also is nearly 30 years younger than both Joe Biden and Donald Trump. While Hutchison governed as a conservative while serving as Arkansas’ governor — and is likely to focus on immigration and the economy like President Trump — as NPR noted, he has positioned himself in opposition to the “chaos” he has said President Donald Trump has created in the country. Ramaswamy, NPR said, “has a sterling educational background and comes from the business world, which is traditionally valued in the GOP primary.” Ramaswamy also “has been a prominent voice in conservative circles, arguing against the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement and against ‘woke’-ism.”

These candidates eventually will be joined by others, of course. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis still has not formally announced whether he will run for president (though it seems highly likely he will) and former Vice President Mike Pence and former Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have not yet decided if they will challenge their old boss. In addition to Sen. Scott, other potential GOP presidential candidates include New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who is limited to serving just one term at a time as chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

While it is still early days in the process, current polling indicates former President Trump is the favorite among Republican voters. Indeed, according to the RealClearPolitics average of 2024 GOP nomination surveys, the former commander in chief has an almost 27 point lead over his closest opponent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

We won’t have to wait too long to see all of these individuals on the stage together. The first GOP presidential debate is set for August in Milwaukee.

The Race For The House And Senate

The White House is not the only prize up for grabs in 2024, of course. Republicans will try to wrest the U.S. Senate from Democrats and Democrats will be vying to take back the U.S. House of Representatives from its current Republican majority. There also will be governors’ races in 11 states and thousands of state legislative campaigns.

We will provide more in-depth information on these down ballot races in a later update, but here are a few nuggets to chew on in the meantime:

  • Democrats will have far more territory to defend in the Senate. Republicans will defend only 10 seats in 2024. Democrats have 23 to cover, including two independent senators’ seats who caucus with Democrats.

  • According to Cook Political Report, Democrats also have many more vulnerable seats in the House than Republicans. In a February analysis, Cook listed 39 Democratic seats that are up for grabs and only 29 GOP seats.

  • There have been only three polls so far this year that ask respondents which party, in general, they prefer to support when it comes to who controls Congress. Two of those surveys showed Republicans with a slight lead; the other one had Democrats ahead by just three points.

In the life of a campaign, 573 days is an eternity. But make no mistake: the marathon that is Election 2024 has begun.

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