Live revision! Join us for our free exam revision livestreams Watch now

In the News

Update on the race for the White House 2024

Mike McCartney

24th February 2023

The starting gun for nomination 2024 has fired

This week it has been reported that former South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley, has formerly declared he run for the Republican nomination.

There has been a slight rejigging of the Democrat calendar, as mentioned in previous blog post here, back in late 2022.

But the changes to the calendar are most likely to be meaningless given that the current POTUS is likely to be unopposed.

There have been calls on the GOP side to make similar reforms. See here. And this ties in with the arguments for and against the primaries process. These can generally be summed up as...

Presidential primaries: the case for

  1. Primaries are democratic and post 1968 have opened up selection to party supporters rather than party elders behind closed doors, in smoke filled rooms, as they did with Hubert Humphrey in 1968.
  2. Iowa and New Hampshire have relatively small populations therefore this gives voters the opportunity to meet candidates face to face and indulge in some old fashioned “retail politics”, a process that would not be possible if one of the bigger states was first or if there was a clutch of states voting on the same day.
  3. Primaries are expensive but when we bear in mind that McDonalds spend well over half a billion dollars per year on advertising in the USA then the figures seem much more reasonable.
  4. Those candidates deterred from entering the race due to inability to raise necessary funding most likely do not have what it takes. There is a strong argument to suggest that supporters are looking to back a winner, hence the flow of funding that went to the likes of Clinton, GW Bush, etc.
  5. Money does not necessarily buy success anyway. Most egregiously, Steve Forbes in 2000 spent $40m and failed to win a single state.
  6. Primary campaigns prepare candidates for the general election battle - eg the Hillary v Obama battle arguably sharpened up the Obama campaign and made him as the eventual Democrat nominee more battle hardened.
  7. Primaries can project relatively unknown candidates onto the national stage: Jimmy Carter, it is said, started in Iowa with just a suitcase.
  8. Complaints about low turnout are exaggerated, eg turnout in the 2008 campaign cycle hit record levels, driven by the competitive nature of the Democrat campaign.

Presidential primaries: the case against

  1. Primary voters are not politically representative of the voting population and candidates are forced to court polar opposites of the political spectrum, thus potentially harming their attempt to attract centrist voters post-convention.
  2. The need to campaign for the primaries makes the race for the presidency into a marathon, thus inducing voter fatigue and depressing voter turnout.
  3. The traditionally early state contests in Iowa and New Hampshire are unrepresentative of the wider US voting public. Iowa and NH are rural, conservative, and above average wealth.Therefore the concerns of voters in these states is out of alignment with the rest if the union, e.g. Iowa’s obsession with ethanol subsidies!
  4. Performance in early contests are unreliable indicators of who will secure the presidency, e.g. Bush defeated Reagan in 1980 in Iowa, and thus questions about their prominent place in the calendar remain.
  5. States often squabble about when their primary can be held, and this detracts from the substance of the issues, with the media turning its attention to the battle for state prominence rather than policy analysis.
  6. Contests can be bitter and divisive, e.g. McCain v. Bush 2000. Hardly the best springboard for a successful GE campaign.
  7. Many apparently well qualified candidates drop out due to their inability to raise pots of cash, e.g. Libby Dole in October 1999.
  8. The need for money. And lots of it. Primaries are enormously expensive. The need to campaign early, criss-crossing the US, hire campaign teams, and run expensive adverts necessitates huge funds.
  9. Turnout rates are usually low, with the examples like the 2008 contest being the exception due to a confluence of factors. More common figures are those like the Democrat primary in Connecticut in 2004, for example, attracted just 5% of voters.

So students in Year 12 should start following the race, with a number of potential big hitters likely to declare soon. The best site I have come across for doing this is at The Washington Post. Click here.

A couple of videos to watch...

Haley's official announcement
What CNN has to say

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.