The buzz surrounding the 2024 US election began as soon as the final votes were being counted during the contentious 2020 election. Travel Security Analyst Spencer Alexander reports from the United States.
As of the end of 2023, despite several other politicians throwing their hats into the ring as potential Republican and Democratic nominees, most experts still currently believe that it will ultimately come down to a rehashing of this 2020 election race between former President Donald Trump and current President Joseph Biden. Infamously, the 2020 election was fraught with controversy and was even accompanied by a mass information campaign and relatively significantly unrest for a nation that is seen as developed and democratic. This unrest ultimately culminated in an attempted coup where supporters of Trump, who believed that the votes had been miscounted, staged a deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Since then, there have been a myriad of court cases and indictments involving individuals who participated in and supported the attack on the capitol. Even Donald Trump has continued to find himself at the centre of several court cases since 2021.
At the end of December 2023, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Donald Trump was ineligible to run for president and therefore cannot be on the ballot for the primary election in March 2024. This decision was made based on Trump’s participation in inciting the attempted coup on 6 January 2021, which the Court stated disqualifies him from running for president as per Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. This amendment was passed following the US Civil War in the 1860s and states that any individual who swore an oath to uphold the constitution and then subsequently “engaged in insurrection” is ineligible from holding office again. The Republican Party of Colorado is currently attempting to appeal the decision and Trump could potentially file an appeal himself, meaning that the case will likely soon be brought before the US Supreme Court. Trump was also recently removed from the ballot in Maine by the state’s Secretary of State. While similar cases have been dismissed in Michigan and Minnesota, other such cases are still pending in several other states. Depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling, and how many states ultimately end up removing Trump from the ballot (if any), Trump could be in a position of not being eligible for enough electoral college votes to win the election.
The most relevant and pressing criticisms faced by President Biden as of the end of 2023 have been related to how he has handled the ongoing Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, including his failure to fully condemn the violence. For younger and more liberal voters in particular, this will likely be a major sticking point during this election cycle. Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine remains a topic of discussion as well. Furthermore, topics such as immigration, abortion, and the economy will continue to shape people’s attitudes during this election cycle.
The 2024 election is shaping up to be very similar to the 2020 election, which was ultimately decided by only 43,000 votes. The 2024 election is likely to be even closer. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 seats in the Senate are up for election in 2024 as well. Therefore, a shift in the dynamics of congress cannot be ruled out and is likely to influence the actual political consequences of the presidential election. While the election is unlikely to have any immediate impact on travellers, immigration policies could change imminently and significantly, thereby impacting how easy it is for people from other countries to travel, live, and work in the United States. Trump has already stated that, if elected, he would resurrect his conservative policies on immigration and extend the travel bans that he put in place during his presidency to apply to people from any countries that “threaten [US] security.” Additionally, given what happened after the 2020 election, unrest cannot be ruled out in the wake of the 2024 election. Protests the results of the election are to be expected regardless of which candidates ultimately end up on the final ballot and who ends up winning. This is on top of the increasing number of protests relating to abortion and the conflict in the Gaza Strip, which are also likely to continue in 2024. At the end of 2023, pro-Palestine protesters blocked access to airports in New York and California. Such protests could potentially become more common and travel disruptions can therefore not be ruled out. Therefore, the impacts of the 2024 election will come in two main stages—the immediate, impulsive response to the results and the policies proposed by the winner of the election.