US election 2024: Candidates, dates, how the president is elected and all you need to know

Donald Trump and Joe Biden on track to face off in the polls again

Election day is on November 5. AP
Powered by automated translation

The countdown to the US presidential elections has begun.

US President Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump have reached the required number of delegates to be eligible for their parties' nominations ahead of election day in November.

The National takes a look at the major players and important dates in this year's presidential election:

US presidential election candidates

Joe Biden: The current US President is running for re-election after winning against Mr Trump in 2020.

The Democrat entered the Oval Office after a pro-Trump insurrection attempt at the US Capitol, and led the country out of the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout.

Mr Biden, 81, is now facing challenges over his age and mental competency, in addition to his administration's handling of support for Israel during the war in Gaza.

Donald Trump: The former president is making his third bid for the White House.

Mr Trump, 77, the leading Republican candidate, is facing 91 felony charges across several court cases. He has been accused of mishandling classified documents and leading a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He has pledged to be a dictator on “day one” if elected.

Which candidates have dropped out?

In the Republican Party: The party originally had a crowded campaign field, although no candidate posed much of a challenge to Mr Trump.

The leading candidates against Mr Trump were former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who both dropped out in early 2024. They have been awarded 94 and nine delegates, respectively.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy had three delegates, although he also pulled out of the race.

In the Democratic Party: Mr Biden has not had any major competition throughout the campaign.

The only candidate to have gained delegates is entrepreneur Jason Palmer, with three. Author Marianne Williamson is also running, but she has not won any delegates.

Mr Biden is still facing challenges in his own party, with a small but vocal movement encouraging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” in the primaries in response to the President's support for Israel during the war in Gaza.

The “uncommitted” vote has been awarded 20 delegates.

Arab-American voters are bringing the Middle East to this year's White House race

Arab-American voters are bringing the Middle East to this year's White House race

Who is running on third-party tickets?

For the Independent Party: Lawyer Robert F Kennedy, a nephew of former president John F Kennedy, is running for office, with his campaign focused on anti-vaccine activism.

Ivy League professor and academic Cornel West is also running as a progressive activist.

For the Green Party: Jill Stein, who ran for president in 2012 and 2016, is running for her party's nomination again.

What is a party convention and when are they?

A party convention is when delegates from every US state and territory formally submit their votes to nominate a candidate to represent the party in the presidential election.

Conventions often feature speeches by party leaders and the candidates.

  • The Republican National Convention will take place July 15 to 18 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • The Democratic National Convention will take place August 19 to 22 in Chicago, Illinois.

When are the presidential debates?

Debates between the two major party candidates will take place after the conventions and before the election.

  • The first presidential debate is scheduled for September 16 at Texas State University.
  • The vice presidential debate will take place on September 25 at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.
  • The second presidential debate is scheduled for October 1 at Virginia State University. It will be the first US debate to be held at a historically black college or university.
  • The third presidential debate is scheduled for October 9 at the University of Utah.

Even after bowing out of the Republican primary debates, Mr Trump in March has said he will debate Mr Biden “any time, anywhere, any place”, while Mr Biden said it “depends on his [opponent's] behaviour”.

When is the US election?

Election day is on November 5.

What is the Electoral College?

The US president is not elected by popular vote, but rather by a majority of electors, in a unique system called the Electoral College.

Each state has a specific number of electors based on the Census, depending on the number of senators and congressional districts.

What does a candidate need to win?

A presidential candidate needs the support of 270 out of 538 electors in the Electoral College.

How the Electoral College system works

How the Electoral College system works

When is the certification of the election?

After the electors hold meetings in their states and send in formal certifications, members of Congress meet at the Capitol in Washington to certify the results on January 6, 2025.

When is the inauguration?

Inauguration day is on January 20, 2025.

Updated: March 22, 2024, 9:57 AM