The top six potential Democratic candidates for 2024

Joe Biden is front runner for the nomination but Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has Democrats worried

US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris is her party’s top choice for president after Joe Biden
(Image credit: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Joe Biden is hoping to “finish the job” that he started in 2020, as the leading contender to represent the Democratic Party at the 2024 presidential election.

His predecessor Donald Trump has also thrown his hat into the ring for re-election as the Republican candidate, paving the way for a potential rematch of their 2020 clash at the polls. But “a large number” of Americans “don’t want to vote for either”, said The Independent’s Washington, D.C.-based reporter Gustaf Kilander – presenting an opportunity for a new generation of would-be leaders from both parties.

Here are the current leading contenders vying for the Democratic candidacy.

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Joe Biden – 1/4

Joe Biden

(Image credit: Ronen Zvulun/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A poll released in April shortly before Biden announced his intention to run again showed “only about half of Democrats” wanted him to do so, reported The Associated Press. Biden is the oldest president in American history, and “it’s hard to ignore the toll” of his years, said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times.

But “the 80-year-old Delawarean is far and above seen as the least bad option”, said The Independent’s Kilander. Any vulnerability he faces as a candidate is “offset” by the 60% of voters who say they don’t want to see Trump run again either.

If voters are forced to choose between the two rivals, Biden looks likely to come out on top. A hypothetical general election poll from Quinnipiac University released in June showed Biden with a four-point lead over Trump. “While Biden’s support is unchanged since the last poll in late May, Trump’s support has dropped 2 points,” said The Hill.

All of this is boosting Democrats’ confidence about a Biden-Trump rematch, wrote Astead Herndon for The New York Times. “They argue that the electorate is simply exhausted with the chaos” that Trump brought to American politics. “What was once fun (for some) no longer is.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – 10/1

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. holding a microphone and speaking to a crowd

One poll showed RFK Jr. with a favourability rating that bested those of both Biden and Trump
(Image credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

When Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced in April he was running for president, his bid was declared “all but doomed” by Politico. The 69-year-old son of assassinated US senator Robert F. Kennedy may come from an “American political dynasty”, said the site, but he is a vaccine sceptic and conspiracy theorist, and Democratic operatives “have publicly and privately pilloried him as a disgrace to his family”.

Cut to June, and Kennedy “has a higher favourability rating than many of the other 2024 presidential candidates”, said The Hill. A poll from The Economist and YouGov showed him with a favourability rating that bested even those of both Biden and Trump, which is “sparking some concerns” among some Democrats.

Ignoring Kennedy’s candidacy “is not an option”, wrote Naomi Klein at The Guardian. He’s a master at creating social media buzz and is courting endorsements from deep-pocketed Silicon Valley moguls. “We should expect him to continue to build momentum, and continue to find new audiences.”

Kennedy is very unlikely to “topple an incumbent president”, said Axios, but any funding he brings in could “help narrow the money gap and keep Kennedy in the race longer than a typical long shot”.

Gavin Newsom – 12/1

Gavin Newsom

(Image credit: Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

Once seen as the dark horse contender, California’s incumbent governor has claimed he has no White House ambitions, that Biden should run for president again and he would not run against either his party leader or Harris.

However, Gavin Newsom has dramatically raised his national profile over the past year, “causing the most antsy whispers from the Biden orbit with his comments calling out a lack of Democratic action and energy”, said CNN.

The 55-year-old easily won a second term as governor earlier this month, with a campaign focused strongly on national issues such as abortion and immigration.

He has criticised his own party for being too passive in its battles with Republicans, “leading to media speculation that he is laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign either in 2024 or 2028”, reported the California non-profit CalMatters.

Reuters said he has already contacted potential donors and staff in case Biden decides not to run.

Kamala Harris – 16/1

Kamala Harris

(Image credit: Saquan Stimpson/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The vice president featured heavily in the campaign video that Biden released announcing his 2024 candidacy, suggesting she has no plans to launch a rival bid.

But Harris is her party’s top choice for president after Biden, according to a March poll from Harvard Center for American Progress and Harris Insights and Analytics. The survey of more than 2,900 voters put her at the top of the list of potential alternative candidates should Biden opt not to run.

The former California attorney general and US senator is the first female, black and South Asian-American to serve as vice president. Her choice as Biden’s running mate immediately elevated her to the position of presumptive presidential nominee in either 2024 or 2028.

It has not been plain sailing, however. “Since taking office, Harris has been assigned one of the administration’s thorniest issues: stemming the influx of immigrants attempting to cross U.S. borders,” said the Los Angeles Times. Republicans “have sought to make her the face of an issue that they believe could help them politically” and her approval rating has deteriorated further than Biden’s.

Harris, 58, has also made a series of high-profile gaffes and missteps that, combined with her less-than-inspiring 2020 run for the White House and a series of high-profile resignations, have led many to conclude she has neither the political acumen nor popular touch to win a presidential race.

Crucially, however, she retains the support of a majority of black Democratic primary voters, a key voting block that helped secure Biden his nomination back in 2020 and could yet deliver the nomination for Harris next time round.

Michelle Obama – 20/1

Michelle Obama

(Image credit: Pedro Leal/Getty Images)

As first lady from 2009 to 2017, “Obama made a name for herself through initiatives for women, healthy families, higher education and international adolescent girls’ education, and remained a popular and outspoken figure even after her husband’s presidency ended”, said Stylist.

She has repeatedly said she would not run for the White House. Obama nevertheless continues to be “beloved among Democrats” and polls highly in surveys of notional fields without Biden or Harris. While she praised the president for “doing a great job” after the midterms, she “stopped short of a full-throated endorsement for another White House run”, said CNN.

Speaking at the conservative CPAC conference in February, former Trump aide Monica Crowley said if Obama were to run in 2024 it would put Republicans “in a very difficult position” because she is “completely plausible, very popular, and immune to criticism”.

In his book, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election”, The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender added that an Obama candidacy is feared by Republicans all the way up to Trump, who was convinced Democrats would parachute her in to replace Biden at the 2020 convention.

Pete Buttigieg – 33/1

Pete Buttigieg

(Image credit: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Mayor Pete”, as he is known, shot to national prominence during the 2020 presidential race before being appointed transportation secretary in the Biden administration.

The office has not traditionally been a springboard to the presidency, “but that could change if the chips fall right for Pete Buttigieg”, said The Washington Times. “The 40-year-old has been given a massive platform to showcase his political chops and communication skills as the public face of the $1trn infrastructure spending that is wildly popular and received bipartisan votes.”

Pitched very much as the centrist candidate able to win over swing voters, Buttigieg “continues to carve out a potentially attractive space in Democratic politics”, said The Washington Post, referring to his appearances on Fox News where he has disputed conservative talking points in a “calm and steady manner”.

The buzz around the openly gay former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has degrees from two of the world’s top universities and has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, has only heightened during his time in Washington. Polls have repeatedly revealed Buttigieg to have the highest name recognition of any member of the Biden administration aside from the president and VP, said Politico, as well as a higher net favourability rating than anyone else in the cabinet.

*Odds from Paddy Power

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