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  • Eliza Lamont

A Look at the Presidential Primary Nominees Before Super Tuesday

“Super Tuesday,” falling this year on March 5, marks the culmination of the presidential primary voting cycle, with the highest number of states holding primary elections. Sixteen states and territories hold their primary elections on Super Tuesday: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and American Samoa. Currently, there are eight presidential candidates running in the primary election. 

Joe Biden

President Biden is running as the incumbent in this presidential cycle. Biden centered his 2020 campaign around a return to democracy and steady political force after Trump’s time in office, a message he is returning to in his 2024 campaign. A major concern among voters has been Biden’s age, as he will be 82 upon inauguration if elected. Biden is currently the oldest president, with Ronald Reagan as the second oldest at age 77 at the end of his 8-year term in office. Biden’s age has raised questions about imposing an age limit on the presidency, as well as debates about ableism in politics. Concern about the impacts of this cognitive decline on Biden’s mental and physical health is something that, according to a poll from NBC News, three-quarters of voters and one-half of Democrats have concerns about. Despite these debates, most indicators are pointing toward Biden as the Democratic Presidential nominee come November 2024. Looking ahead to the presidential election in November, many are anticipating a rematch between Biden and Trump. A recent Quinnipiac University National poll shows that, among registered voters, Biden is currently holding a 49% lead over Trump’s 45% support. 

Donald J. Trump

Despite Former President Donald Trump’s federal criminal charges, his two-time impeachment, and his 2020 election loss to current President Biden, he announced his third presidential run on November 15, 2022. Trump now looks to “make America great and glorious again,” and he has received significant Republican support, with a poll from NBC showing that two-thirds of Republican primary voters say that they stand behind Trump. As of now, he remains the clear frontrunner in the Republican Party. One of Trump’s campaign promises has been to pardon 

many of the pro-Trump rioters charged after the January 6 U.S. Capitol Attack. He has also mentioned a desire to introduce a new plan to make America safe again, in part by restoring “law and order” to the nation with record-high investments in the hiring, retention, training, and liability protection for police officers. The idea of “law and order” was a major component of Trump’s 2016 campaign. However, the term has a turbulent history, as the enforcement of the idea has resulted in minority communities being targeted. Another one of Trump’s campaign promises includes reclaiming American colleges and universities from what he refers to as the radical Left and Marxist maniacs.” This plan includes protecting free speech on campuses, defending “American tradition and Western civilization,” eliminating costly administrative positions, providing accelerated and low-cost degree programs, and removing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion bureaucrats. The way that Trump is outlining these policies has concerned many of his critics, as they view the policies as tactics in a larger culture war in American politics. With polls consistently showing a tight race between Trump and President Biden, it is likely that the presidential race will be between the two candidates in November 2024. 

Nikki Haley

Former Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC) and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations announced her presidential bid on February 14, 2023. Haley, who supported Trump in the 2020 presidential election, has since stated that she no longer believes he is a viable presidential candidate, as he is “not the same person he was in 2016. He is unhinged. He is more diminished than he was.” This statement is particularly salient, as it was under the Trump administration when Haley was selected as a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Her separation from Trump represents a larger movement of Republican Party officials breaking ties with Trump and looking to stop him from getting the 2024 Republican nominee. While Haley has faced six consecutive losses to Trump, including in her home state of South Carolina, she has vowed to remain in the race until Super Tuesday. A poll from Quinnipiac University found that, in a hypothetical general election matchup between Biden and Haley, Haley leads with 47% of voter support to Biden’s 42% support. However, this matchup is unlikely to occur, given both Haley’s lack of success in the general election thus far, as well as one poll found her having only 21% of the Republican Party supporting her. One potential explanation for Haley’s lack of traction within the Republican Party comes from previous Presidential hopeful and current Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. During a CNN town hall, DeSantis said that Haley is “really reflective of the old failed Republican establishment of yesteryear.” Another explanation could be a lack of legitimization within the Republican Party demographic as a woman and a person of color. Despite Haley’s assurance to voters that she “doesn’t believe in” identity politics or glass ceilings, it’s possible these factors are still making an impact on her presidential bid.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

Robbery Kennedy, a prominent environmental lawyer and nephew of John F. Kennedy, has more recently come to public prominence for his anti-vaccine sentiment. On a Fox News podcast, he asserted that “there’s no vaccine that is safe and effective” and has continued to support the now-disproved belief that vaccines can cause autism. He initially began his campaign with the Democratic Party before later deciding to run as an independent in October 2023. His website states that this decision now means that he is “independent of the party elites, insiders, lobbyists, corporate donors, and Washington power players.” While Kennedy consistently polls above other third-party and independent candidates, he has not gotten enough support to surpass the Democratic and Republican party nominees. Despite his lack of voter support, a Gallup poll finds him as the candidate with the most favorability, coming in at 52%. Whether this is due to his family name, his divergent political platform and views, or just a general dislike of the other candidates remains unclear. Either way, he has been the subject of attacks from the Democratic Party, who fear that his candidacy would take votes away from Biden, helping Trump to defeat him. 

Cornel West

Professor, philosopher, and progressive activist Cornel West currently works at the Union Theological Seminary. Initially running with the Green Party, West announced that he would be running as an independent in October 2023. West announced on X that this decision to run as an independent was “to end the iron grip of the ruling class and ensure true democracy!” West is known for his progressive activism and his criticism of former President Obama for his administration’s drone policy and his handling of police brutality towards black men, among other things. In 2013, West stated: Let us not be deceived — Nixon, Bush, Obama, they’re war criminals. They have killed innocent people in the name of the struggle for freedom, but they’re suspending the law, very much like Wall Street criminals.” While the odds are against him, with one poll finding him with only 4% voter support nationally, Democrats are concerned about the possibility that he could impact the elections by taking votes that would otherwise go to President Biden. 

Jill Stein

Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee in 2012 and 2016, is seeking the party’s nomination for a third time in the 2024 elections. Stein describes her agenda as “pro-worker, anti-war, [and] climate action. Stein says that she is running with the Green Party because the current two-party system is “broken,” and she wants to “offer that choice for the people outside of the failed two-party system.” As a practicing physician and environmental health advocate, climate action and the fight against environmental racism (the intentional or unintentional racial discrimination in environmental policy‐making, enforcement of regulations and laws, and targeting of communities for the disposal of toxic waste and siting of polluting industries) are issues at the forefront of her campaign. However, similar to Kennedy, both Democrats and Republicans are concerned about the impact of Stein’s election bid on the expected showdown between Biden and Trump, as they are afraid her campaign will take away votes that would otherwise go to the Democratic and Republican candidates. Depending on the poll, Stein is coming up tied with or behind West, with between 1 - 3% of voter support. 

Ryan Binkley

Binkley, the third candidate running with the Republican Party, is a pastor and President and CEO of Generational Group. Despite the fact that he fell so far behind in the New Hampshire primary election that he was surpassed by candidates who had already dropped out, he is still officially on the ballot. He has marketed himself as a “unifying” candidate that can bring voters together across partisan lines. His website states that he is running on the idea of returning to the “core values of trusting in God and each other again, caring for the hurting, leading with integrity, and bringing hope and healing to our nation.” 

Dean Phillips

As a three-term Congressman from Minnesota, Phillips shares many of the same policy views as President Biden: providing Medicare for all, making college more affordable, and reducing housing costs. However, Phillips believes that the Democratic Party should nominate someone other than President Biden in light of his age and low approval ratings. His website states that his mission as president would be to “inspire a new era of collaboration in Washington, pursue common ground for the common good, and end the corrupting influence of special interest money in our politics.” While these ideas do not differ greatly from Biden’s, the other Democratic Party nominee, Phillips, is running on the idea that the Democratic Party needs someone other than Biden to implement them. Despite collecting less than 2% of the vote in the South Carolina primary, Phillips stated that he is staying in the race on a mission of principle.

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