What are the Issues at stake this 2024 US Presidential Elections

The 2024 US Presidential Elections are currently underway with the current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump dominating the state primaries from their respective parties.

The 2024 US Presidential Elections are currently underway with the current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump dominating the state primaries from their respective parties. Now that Nikki Haley, sole contender against Donald Trump from the Republican Party, has suspended her campaign, the world will witness the historic rematch  between the two candidates, in November. On the other side President Joe Biden faced no competition from his party and dominated Democratic Party’s state primaries.  The Primaries as well as the Caucasus will be followed by the Republican National Convention in July and the Democratic National Convention in August where each of the parties will formally announce their nominees for the election. The National Conventions will be followed by the Presidential debate in September and finally on November 5th 2024, the US voters will elect their President.

While the election process is gaining momentum , US voters are concerned with the performance and policies of each of the candidates which, according to the voters, will decide the future of American democracy.

According to polling data collected by AP NORC at the University of Chicago, the US voters differ greatly on the issues of national significance. For instance, the Democrats regard the 2024 elections as a significant turning point with respect to issues such as climate change, ethnicity, abortion policy, the future of democracy, healthcare and gun policy. Whereas the Republican voters feel that the elections will have a more significant impact on issues such as border control, government spending, crime, immigration and the economy.

 This year, a substantial number of voters also consider Foreign Policy as a key issue in the election . The foreign policy endorsed by each of the presidential candidates plays a huge role in garnering votes and public support. Evidence could be seen in the  swing state of Michigan where Muslim- American activists sent a warning to the White House expressing discontent over  Joe Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza. The protesters demand a permanent ceasefire in Gaza as opposed to the temporary ceasefire that the White House has been pushing for. The protesters threatened to withhold votes at the Michigan Democratic primaries. President Joe Biden still won the state primary with 81% of the votes. However, the case might not be the same if the protesters decide to withhold their votes during the general elections in November, thereby putting pressure on President Biden to rethink his strategy.  At the same time the protesters are left with no better option given the Republican counterpart, Donald Trump’s opinion on the matter. Trump backs Israel amidst the Israel Gaza war, stating that Israel must “finish the problem”, at the same time avoiding commenting on the question of ceasefire, which will most likely render him an unpopular image among the Muslim-Arab Americans. Biden also expressed his support for Ukraine during his State of the Union address and urged the Congress to stand against Russia. His Republican contender also wants the war to end, however his intentions are driven by his disapproval of billions of aid sent to Ukraine. Trump tried to change the narrative by stating that he will protect Ukraine better than President Joe Biden if he comes to power. However these claims were squashed after his meeting with the Hungarian PM Orban, to whom he expressed his disapproval of funding Ukraine’s fight against Russia, thereby leaving the plight of Ukraine in ambiguity if Trump is elected as the President. 

When it comes to domestic issues such as Abortion, Gun Control and Healthcare, we can see Trump and his democratic counterpart again have conflicting viewpoints. Joe Biden has repeatedly reiterated his support for women’s reproductive rights and during his annual State of the Union address promised to reinstate Roe vs Wade (1973) as the law of the land again. The landmark judgment that legalized abortion in the US was overturned by the Supreme Court because of a conservative majority. Several states including Texas, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina etc. either completely put a ban on abortion or severely restricted the procedure stifling women’s reproductive rights. Democrats time and again highlighted the role played by Trump in overturning Roe vs Wade, as he selected three justices responsible for overturning the judgment . Thereby, compelling Trump to rethink his approach on the matter. Donald Trump currently maintains the position of 16 week national abortion ban with three exceptions (rape, incest or to save the mother’s life) which is a strategic move targeted to appease both the social conservatives as well as voters that wanted a more modest abortion policy , however the matter has not yet been discussed in public elaborately. The Abortion issue could be one of the deciding factors in this year’s election.

When we talk about Gun Control, President Biden during the course of his presidency imposed several restrictions on possession of firearms, which his Republican predecessor; Donald Trump promises to overturn if he is elected as the President. Republicans claim that the right to possess firearms is protected under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and hence cannot be taken away. However, gun violence and mass shootings in America are on the rise, with more than 600 incidents recorded since 2020. Joe Biden during his presidency, imposed several restrictions on possession of firearms through Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (2024) as well the 21 Executive Actions that were implemented to reduce gun violence in 2022, all of which are in immediate danger given Donald Trump’s promise to undo them all.

Another deciding issue of concern in the 2024 US elections are the inflated Healthcare costs. According to the polling information gathered by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), high healthcare costs is another alarming factor shaping the negative view of the US economy. Healthcare spending is one of the key drivers responsible for America’s inflated national debt. Both candidates claim to roll out policies bringing down  healthcare costs. Donald Trump has vowed not only to abolish but replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare (2010) by a “better” healthcare plan. As of January 2024,  the Affordable Care Act provides affordable healthcare insurance as well as subsidies to about 21 million Americans. However, Trump failed to mention the details of the plan that would be replacing the ACA. The Biden administration on the other hand has taken several steps to lower the healthcare costs. For instance, they allowed Medicare (a federal health insurance plan for certain groups) to negotiate prices for certain drugs. However, the impact of these policies is yet to trickle down to the beneficiaries thereby limiting their ability to impact voter sentiment.

Most of the US voters are particularly disappointed with Biden’s performance with respect to the US economy. Contrary to the general voter sentiment the US economy has picked itself up well from the ruins of the pandemic under Biden’s administration. The negative sentiment of the voters is however driven by an all time rise in prices. Inflation has been one of the most persistent challenges faced by the Biden administration, thereby shaping the negative view of the American economy as the disposable income of Americans declined. But at the same time Biden’s presidency is also marked with low unemployment rate, steady economic growth, and a strong labor market with about more than 14 millions jobs created during his administration. However, a substantial number of voters, in polls, still prefer Trump’s handling of the economy over Biden’s. Trump’s presidency was marked with low inflation rates, steady economic growth and a rise in real disposable income, before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. According to sources, Biden will be proposing the budget for 2025 and plans to announce tax hikes on billionaires as well as funding for other social programmes in the hope to uplift declining voter sentiment with respect to the US economy.

The voters are also concerned about the competency of each of the presidential candidates to run for office again. President Biden is the oldest US President, aged 81, raising concerns over his health and ability to run for office again. President Biden’s fiery state of the union address was able to assuage some of these concerns but discontent over his performance and policies still remain. Donald Trump on the other hand is yet to face the trial in court for four separate criminal cases as well as several civil cases. Thereby, highlighting the issue of competency as well as overall health of American democracy.

Concluding Statements: Issues and Challenges

There are several other challenges that await the 47th US President such as the fentanyl epidemic, climate change,  immigration and border security. Trump’s policies such as abolishing Birthright citizenship, the Affordable Care Act and reinstating high tariffs, might stir some controversy thereby impacting voter sentiment. However, Trump has so far maintained a convincing level of ambiguity over how he will achieve these goals. Whereas President Biden has made his stance clear through his impassioned State of the Union speech. But this does not change the fact that the US voters remain divided over their choice of presidential candidates this year as both the candidates are equally unpopular among the US voters. It’s highly anticipated that the candidates will discuss these very issues and their approach in the upcoming Presidential debate which will be held in September and October, which could help in solidifying their political base.

Priya Singh
Priya Singh
Priya Singh is an independent scholar from New Delhi, India. She has a postgraduate degree in Politics and International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She can be reached at Priya.singh98[at]outlook.com