2024 is an election year, and for many college students, it could be their first time voting in a federal election. Politics in the United States is a touchy subject and is often not discussed in casual conversation. People take others’ political views as a judgment of their character, which can often create biased reporting. This article will attempt to give a brief overview of the major candidates campaigning for the 2024 election to give voters an idea of who they are voting for. But because elections are so important, it is essential to educate oneself beyond this and understand who you are voting for.

     The Democrats

          The leading member of the Democratic Party is Joe Biden. He is the current President of the United States, which makes him the incumbent for this election. He is running with his current Vice President, Kamala Harris. As of inauguration day, he will be 82, the oldest candidate. According to a study by PEW Research Center, as of December 2023, Biden’s approval rating with the public was a mere 33%. His campaign website does not include his plans if he is reelected, but the White House website notes some of his priorities. Biden claims to be focused on tackling the climate crisis by helping the U.S. “to achieve net-zero emissions” by “no later than 2050.” He wants to center equity in his plan by delivering criminal justice reform and ending imbalances in healthcare by building upon the Affordable Care Act. His statement on immigration is vague, only saying he will “reform our long-broken and chaotic immigration system.” He stresses his focus on strengthening America and boosting the middle class. For more about his presidency, visit whitehouse.gov.

          Marianne Williamson is the only female Democratic candidate. According to the New York Times, she formerly wrote self-help books and is known for being a spiritual advisor to Oprah Winfrey. This is her second time running, and as of inauguration day, she will be 72 years old. Williamson emphasizes five critical issues on her campaign website. She discusses the healthcare crisis and advocates for a “Whole Health Plan,” which includes expanded insurance and funding courses on diet and exercise. She claims that to better our economy for the future, it is necessary to focus on taking care of our children now. Williamson wants to fund schools and ensure children have adequate care in their homes and educational lives. She strongly advocates for the Green New Deal, funding the Environmental Protection Agency, and ending America’s reliance on oil. She is also pro-choice, saying that every woman has the right to make her own decisions and wants to restore funding for Planned Parenthood. You can find the rest of her stances at marianne2024.com.

          The last remaining Democratic candidate is Dean Phillips. He has served as a representative from Minnesota since 2019. The New York Times writes that Phillips “argues that Mr. Biden’s age and low approval ratings mean the party should nominate someone else.” Age is a contentious issue in many elections. Though Phillips is one of the youngest candidates, he will still be 56 on inauguration day. Phillip’s campaign page addresses one thing his opponents do not: the recent surge of AI usage. He vows to “establish an AI Leadership Task Force” that will debate ethical AI and how it is governable. Like his competitors, he discusses the cost of healthcare, saying his top priority would be rethinking the medical system in America and imagining universal healthcare. To help fight off expenses for everyday people, he plans to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. To fight the housing crisis, he plans to build 7 million new homes, hoping to use renewable energy to do so. Phillips is also a pro-choice option for president, saying that “women clearly deserve—but still do not have—equal rights in this country.” He plans to fight for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and advance research on women’s health. For more information on his campaign, visit dean2024.com.

     The Republicans

          Through much controversy, the leading candidate for the Republican party is former President Donald Trump. He ran for reelection in 2020, only to lose and claim voter fraud. In his current campaign, he is using this to advocate for stricter voting laws and more secure elections. After the election, many of his supporters thought storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021, was appropriate. Trump is, as of January 2024, charged with 91 felony counts and has been in court for much of this debate season. He is the second oldest candidate and will be 78 on inauguration day. Much of what Trump emphasizes on his campaign website is the need for a dominant American identity. He claims that since other countries want to “exploit the system,” the US “cannot have free and open trade.” He also wants to increase America’s oil and natural gas production while eliminating the Green New Deal. Trump’s opinions of immigrants are still evident as he proposes using the National Guard and law enforcement to remove “illegal alien gang members and criminals.” He suggests that federal funding will be cut from any program that pushes “Critical Race Theory or gender ideology on our children.” He also says schools should not tenure teachers in grade schools but adopt Merit Pay and establish a Parental Bill of Rights. More of his ideas can be found at donaldjtrump.com.

          Trump’s most formidable Republican challenger is Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and former United Nations ambassador under former President Trump. She is the youngest running candidate and will be 53 on inauguration day. On her website, Haley does not include explicit priorities for the presidency, but Ballotpedia compiled statements she has made throughout the Republican debates to show where she stands on key issues. Like her fellow Republicans, Haley has a strong stance on immigration, her parents also being immigrants. She claims that we “have to go and deport these people, so they know it can’t happen again,” referring to immigrants who come to America illegally. She also disagrees with making America “green” regarding energy usage, wanting America to become energy dominant. Haley also expressed concern for children’s education today, saying if they cannot read by the third grade, then they are “four times less likely to graduate high school.” Like many people, she believes healthcare in America has become too expensive, urging for bringing “competition back to healthcare.” Haley has made sure to emphasize that America needs to ban late-term abortions and encourage adoption. Haley’s campaign website can be found at nikkihaley.com, but the Ballotpedia page with her stances is at ballotpedia.org/Nikki_Haley_presidential_campaign,_2024.

          The last Republican candidate still in the running is Ryan Binkley. He has never held an elected office before but works as a pastor of a church in Texas and President of a mergers and acquisitions firm. He will be 57 years old on inauguration day. One of his strongest points focuses on repairing the border by using detention and deportation to “protect the homeland from terrorists and public safety threats.” He plans to work on the budget and bring more accountability to what Washington spends taxpayers’ money on. Binkley emphasizes seeking bipartisan solutions and cooperation between the two parties to seek solutions to the multitude of divisions in our nation. He agrees with Haley, saying that medical providers “should have to compete for your business” and that America needs to “end the healthcare monopoly.” His policies include the climate, proposing the development of new technologies that could produce “affordable and dependable green energy.” To see more of Binkley’s statements, his campaign can be found at binkley2024.com.

     The Independents

          The United States works under a two-party system in which the Democrats and Republicans are in charge. The independent candidate has never won the presidency, and it does not seem likely that will change. Many independents fall under the radar without a major party supporting them and cannot bring out the same numbers as the major candidates. There are three current third-party candidates running, but to many people, it does not seem likely that they will progress.

          One candidate is a nephew of former president John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He will be 71 years old on inauguration day. His previous political background includes prominent anti-vaccine activism, such as sharing the debunked theory that vaccinations lead to autism. His campaign can be found at kennedy24.com.

          Cornel West, 72 years old on inauguration day, is a professor known for his progressive activism. He has taught at schools such as Yale, Princeton, and Harvard. He is currently a professor of philosophy at Union Theological Seminary. His policy ideas are expanded upon on his website, cornelwest2024.

          The last independent candidate still running is Jill Stein, who will be 74 years old on inauguration day. She ran for president twice on the Green Party Ticket in 2012 and 2016. She is an activist who has proposed an economic bill of rights. Her campaign plan can be found at jillstein2014.com.


          While considering who to vote for, it is also important to make sure you are registered to vote. If you are over 18 years old and receiving your driver’s license or state ID, you will be asked if you would like to register to vote. If you decline, you are still eligible to register. For most of your voting needs, you can visit vote.gov. There, you can check your registration status as well as begin the process of registering to vote. You can also figure out how to vote by mail or get reminders on when the election is coming up. It is crucial that we, as American citizens, use the voices we are allowed and vote for our country’s leaders and future policymakers. One vote could change the outcome of the election.

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