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No one alive has seen a race like the 2024 presidential election. For months, if not years, many people have expected a reprise of the 2020 election, a matchup between the sitting president and a former president.

But that didn’t prevent a crowded primary. On the GOP side, more than a dozen candidates announced campaigns against Trump, even though the former president’s lead appeared prohibitive long be he dominated early caucuses and primaries. After Iowa, Nikki Haley supplanted Ron DeSantis as the leading challenger to Trump; at this point, however, she stands little chance at the nomination.

On the other side, Democratic hesitations about a second Joe Biden term have mostly dissolved into resignation that he’ll be the nominee. Representative Dean Phillips has made a last-ditch effort to offer a younger alternative, but he has gained little traction.

Behind all of this, the possibility of a serious third-party bid, led by either No Labels or some other group, continues to loom. Altogether, the race has felt like a bit of a circus on the surface, but it is steaming steadily toward a long-expected conclusion. This guide to the candidates—who’s in, who’s out, and who’s somewhere in between—chronicles that winnowing. It will be updated as the campaign develops, so check in regularly.


REPUBLICANS


(Joe Raedle / Getty)

Donald Trump

Who is he?
You know him and you love him. Or hate him. Probably not much in between.

Is he running?
Yes. Trump announced his bid to return to the White House at Mar-a-Lago in November 2022.

Why does he want to run?
Revenge, boredom, rivalry, fear of prosecution, long-standing psychological hang-ups.

Who wants him to run?
A big tranche of the GOP was always fully behind Trump, and as his rivals have failed to gain much traction, he’s consolidated many of the rest and built an all-but-prohibitive lead.

Can he win the nomination?
Yes, and he very likely will.

What else do we know?
More than we could possibly want to.


ron desantis
(Joe Raedle / Getty)

Ron DeSantis

Who is he?
The second-term governor of Florida, DeSantis was previously a U.S. representative.

Is he running?
No. He dropped out on January 21, two days before the New Hampshire primary.

Why did he want to run?
DeSantis tried to synthesize Trump-style culture warring and the conservative politics of the early-2010s Republican Party, suggesting he’d be like Trump, only more so and more effectively.

Who wanted him to run?
In the end, not many people. Though he was once thought to be the favorite, he never figured out how to peel off Trump voters who liked the original fine, and donors tired of his expensive, directionless campaign.

Could he have won the nomination?
Maybe a more competent campaign would have fared better—it’s already been labeled the worst ever by some journalists and operatives—but DeSantis also revealed himself to be a clumsy and unappealing candidate, which is hard to overcome.


nikki haley
(Roy Rochlin / Getty)

Nikki Haley

Who is she?
Haley, the daughter of immigrants, was the governor of South Carolina and then the ambassador to the United Nations under Trump.

Is she running?
Yes. She announced her campaign on February 14, 2023, saying, “Time for a new generation.”

Why does she want to run?
Haley has tried to steer a path that distances herself from Trump—pointing out his unpopularity—without openly attacking him. She may also be the top foreign-policy hawk in the field.

Who wants her to run?
After DeSantis collapsed, Haley became the most popular alternative to Trump, but she still lags far behind Trump himself nationally and in most every state.

Can she win the nomination?
Not without a miracle or a Trump exit.


Vivek Ramaswamy
(Dylan Hollingsworth / Bloomberg / Getty)

Vivek Ramaswamy

Who is he?
A 38-year-old biotech millionaire with a sparkling résumé (Harvard, then Yale Law, where he became friends with Senator J. D. Vance), Ramaswamy has recently become prominent as a crusader against “wokeism” and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.

Is he running?
No. He dropped out after a distant finish in the Iowa caucuses.

Why did he want to run?
Ramaswamy ran as an anti-woke candidate, but as the campaign developed, he seemed to be somewhere between a stalking horse for Trump and a man auditioning for roles in a second Trump administration.

Who wanted him to run?
The paradigmatic Ramaswamy voter seemed to love Trump’s vibe but be ready for a new version. He had a summer surge when he was fresh, but it subsided as people have gotten to know and—like his Republican rivals—dislike him.

Could he have won the nomination?
No. Ramaswamy broke out of the ranks of oddballs to briefly become a mildly formidable contender, but the more voters saw him, the less they liked his slick shtick and questionable pronouncements.


asa hutchinson
(Alex Wong / Getty)

Asa Hutchinson

Who is he?
Hutchinson, a former longtime member of Congress, just finished a stint as governor of Arkansas.

Is he running?
No. He stuck around even after missing debates, but he finally dropped out on January 16.

Why does he want to run?
Hutchinson—once considered a right-wing Republican—found himself closer to the party’s center in the Trump era. Like Chris Christie, he made opposition to Trump central to his campaign, but with a milder tone. That didn’t work any better than Christie’s bombastic anti-Trumpism.

Who wanted him to run?
Old-school, very conservative Republicans who also detest Trump.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.


tim scott
(David Becker / The Washington Post / Getty)

Tim Scott

Who is he?
A South Carolinian, Scott is the only Black Republican senator.

Is he running?
No. He said on November 12 that he was suspending his campaign.

Why did he want to run?
This was never entirely clear. Scott offered a somewhat sunny personal story but also some hard-line ideas.

Who wants him to run?
Scott’s Senate colleagues adore him, and voters’ views of him were favorable, but he never translated that into real support.

Can he win the nomination?
No. He could never find a way out of the second tier of candidates.


mike pence
(Megan Varner / Getty)

Mike Pence

Who is he?
The former vice president, he also served as the governor of Indiana and a U.S. representative.

Is he running?
No! He shocked a Las Vegas audience by dropping out on October 28. He’d been running since June 7.

Why did he want to run?
Pence has long harbored White House dreams, and he has a strong conservative-Christian political agenda. As the campaign went on, he slowly began to develop a sharper critique of Trump while still awkwardly celebrating the accomplishments of the administration in which he served.

Who wanted him to run?
Conservative Christians and rabbit lovers, but not very many people overall.

Could he have won the nomination?
It wasn’t in the cards.


Chris Christie
(Ida Mae Astute / Getty)

Chris Christie

Who is he?
What a journey this guy has had, from U.S. attorney to respected governor of New Jersey to traffic-jam laughingstock to Trump sidekick to Trump critic. Whew.

Is he running?
No. He announced on January 10 that he was dropping out, one day after calling New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu a “liar” for saying that his campaign was nearly over.

Why did he want to run?
By the end of his campaign, Chris Christie had turned himself into the most anti-Trump candidate in the race—calling the former president out, with names and with rhetoric, and insisting he shouldn’t be the GOP nominee. In fact, that came to be Christie’s only real identity as a candidate.

Who wanted him to run?
Trump-skeptical donors, liberal pundits. But by the end, even some Trump critics were pressuring him to drop out in order to allow the non-Trump vote to consolidate.

Could he have won the nomination?
No staunchly anti-Trump candidate could win in Trump’s Republican Party.


Doug Burgum
(Todd Williamson / Getty)

Doug Burgum

Who is he?
Do you even pay attention to politics? Nah, just kidding. A self-made software billionaire, Burgum is serving his second term as the governor of North Dakota.

Is he running?
No more. Burgum suspended his campaign on December 4. He’d kicked it off on June 7 in Fargo.

Why did he want to run?
Vanity? Boredom? Noble but doomed impulses? Who knows. His campaign-announcement video focuses so much on North Dakota that it seemed more like a reelection push. He told a state newspaper that he thinks the “silent majority” of Americans wants candidates who aren’t on the extremes. (A wealthy outsider targeting the silent majority? Where have we heard that before?) He also really wants more domestic oil production.

Who wanted him to run?
Practically no one. He had to give people $20 gift cards to get them to donate to his campaign so he could qualify for debates.

Could he have won the nomination?
“There’s a value to being underestimated all the time,” he has said. As it turns out, the naysayers estimated accurately.


Will Hurd
(Scott Olson / Getty)

Will Hurd

Who is he?
A former CIA officer, Hurd served three terms in the House, representing a San Antonio–area district.

Is he running?
No. Hurd, who announced his campaign on June 22, dropped out on October 9 and endorsed Nikki Haley.

Why did he want to run?
Hurd said he had “commonsense” ideas and was “pissed” that elected officials are dividing Americans. He’s also been an outspoken Trump critic.

Who wanted him to run?
As a moderate, youngish Black Republican and someone who cares about defense, he is the sort of candidate whom the party establishment seemed to desire after the now-discarded 2012 GOP autopsy.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.


Francis Suarez
(Mandel Ngan / Getty)

Francis Suarez

Who is he?
Suarez is the popular second-term mayor of Miami and the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Is he running?
No. He suspended his campaign on August 29, less than three months after his June 15 entry.

Why did he want to run?
Suarez touted his youth—he’s 45—and said in October 2022, “I’m someone who believes in a positive aspirational message. I’m someone who has a track record of success and a formula for success.”

Who wanted him to run?
Is there really room for another moderate-ish Republican in the race? Apparently not! Despite dabbling in fundraising shenanigans, Suarez failed to make the first Republican debate (or any other splash).

Could he have won the nomination?
No way.


larry hogan
(Drew Angerer / Getty)

Larry Hogan

Who is he?
Hogan left office this year, after serving two terms as governor of Maryland.

Is he running?
¯_(ツ)_/¯. Hogan ruled himself out of the GOP race on March 5, saying he was worried it would help Trump win the nomination, and he endorsed Nikki Haley before the Iowa caucus. But he is also rumored as a potential No Labels candidate, even though such a run might hand the presidency to … Trump.

Why does he want to run?
Hogan has argued that his experience of governing a very blue state as a Republican is a model: “We’ve been really successful outside of Washington, where everything appears to be broken and nothing but divisiveness and dysfunction.”

Who wants him to run?
Dead-ender centrists.

Could he win the nomination?
No.


chris sununu
(John Locher / AP)

Chris Sununu

Who is he?
The governor of New Hampshire, he is the little brother of former Senator John E. Sununu and the son of former White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu.

Is he running?
No. On June 5, after weighing a campaign, he announced that he would not run. Warning about the dangers of a Trump reprise, he said, “Every candidate needs to understand the responsibility of getting out and getting out quickly if it’s not working.” Points for taking his own advice!

Why did he want to run?
Sununu seems disgusted by a lot of Washington politics and saw his success in New Hampshire, a purple-blue state, as a model for small-government conservatism. He is also a prominent Trump critic.

Who wanted him to run?
Trump-skeptical Republicans, old-school conservatives.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.


mike pompeo
(Scott Olson / Getty)

Mike Pompeo

Who is he?
Pompeo, a former member of Congress, led the CIA and was secretary of state under Trump.

Is he running?
No. On April 14, Pompeo announced that he wasn’t running. “This is not that time or that moment for me to seek elected office again,” he said.

Why did he want to run?
Pompeo has always been ambitious, and he seems to think he can combine MAGA proximity with a hawkish foreign-policy approach.

Who wanted him to run?
That’s not entirely clear.

Could he have won the nomination?
Maybe, but probably not.


glenn youngkin
(Misha Friedman / Getty)

Glenn Youngkin

Who is he?
Youngkin, the former CEO of the private-equity Carlyle Group, was elected governor of Virginia in 2021.

Is he running?
No. He spent much of 2023 refusing to categorically rule out a race but not quite committing. As Ron DeSantis’s Trump-alternative glow dimmed, Youngkin seemed to be hoping that Republican success in off-year Virginia legislative elections would give him a boost. After Democrats won control of both the state’s legislative chambers, however, he said he was “not going anywhere.”

Why did he want to run?
Youngkin is a bit of a cipher; he ran for governor largely on education issues, and has sought to tighten abortion laws in Virginia, but the legislative defeat makes that unlikely.

Who wanted him to run?
Rupert Murdoch, reportedly, as well as other wealthy, business-friendly Republican figures.

Could he have won the nomination?
Certainly not without running, and almost certainly not if he did.


Mike Rogers
(Sam Wolfe / Bloomberg / Getty)

Mike Rogers

Who is he?
Rogers is a congressman from Alabam—wait, no, sorry, that’s the other Representative Mike Rogers. This one is from Michigan and retired in 2015. He was previously an FBI agent and was head of the Intelligence Committee while on Capitol Hill.

Is he running?
No. He thought about it but announced in late August that he would run for U.S. Senate instead.

Why did he want to run?
He laid out some unassailably broad ideas for a campaign in an interview with Fox News, including a focus on innovation and civic education, but it’s hard to tell what exactly the goal is here. “This is not a vanity project for me,” he added, which, okay, sure.

Who wanted him to run?
It’s not clear that anyone even noticed he was running.

Could he have won the nomination?
Nope.


Larry Elder
(Todd Williamson / Getty)

Larry Elder

Who is he?
A longtime conservative radio host and columnist, he ran as a Republican in the unsuccessful 2021 attempt to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Is he running?
Not anymore. Elder announced his campaign on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show on April 20, but then disappeared without a trace. On October 27, he dropped out and endorsed Trump.

Why did he want to run?
Glad you asked! “America is in decline, but this decline is not inevitable,” he tweeted. “We can enter a new American Golden Age, but we must choose a leader who can bring us there. That’s why I’m running for President.” We don’t have any idea what that means either.

Who wanted him to run?
Practically no one.

Could he have won the nomination?
Absolutely not.


Rick Perry
(Todd Williamson / Getty)

Rick Perry

Who is he?
Perry was a three-term governor of Texas before serving as energy secretary under Donald Trump. He’s also run for president three times: in 2012, 2016, and … I forget the third one. Oops.

Is he running?
Oh, right! The third one is 2024, maybe. He told CNN in May that he’s considering a run. Nothing’s been heard since. We’ll say no.

Why did he want to run?
He didn’t say, but he’s struggled to articulate much of a compelling case to Republican voters beyond the fact that he’s from Texas, he looks good in a suit, and he wants to be president, gosh darn it.

Who wanted him to run?
Probably no one. As Mike Pompeo already discovered, there wasn’t much of a market for a run-of-the-mill former Trump Cabinet member in the primary—especially one who had such a forgettable turn as secretary, mostly remembered for being dragged peripherally into both the first Trump impeachment and election subversion.

Could he have won the nomination?
The third time wouldn’t have been a charm.


Rick Scott
(Joe Raedle / Getty)

Rick Scott

Who is he?
Before his current gig as a U.S. senator from Florida, Scott was governor and chief executive of a health-care company that committed massive Medicare fraud.

Is he running?
The New York Times says he’s considering it, though an aide said Scott is running for reelection to the Senate. He’d be the fourth Floridian in the race.

Why does he want to run?
A Scott campaign would raise a fascinating question: What if you took Trump’s pose and ideology but removed all the charisma and, instead of promising to protect popular entitlement programs, aimed to demolish them?

Who wants him to run?
Not Mitch McConnell.

Can he win the nomination?
lol


DEMOCRATS


Joe Biden
(Joshua Roberts / Getty)

Joe Biden

Who is he?
After decades of trying, Biden is the president of the United States.

Is he running?
Yes. Biden formally announced his run on April 25.

Why does he want to run?
Biden’s slogan is apparently “Let’s finish the job.” He centered his launch video on the theme of freedom, but underlying all of this is his apparent belief that he may be the only person who can defeat Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup.

Who wants him to run?
There’s the catch. Some prominent Democrats support his bid for a second term, but voters have consistently told pollsters that they don’t want him to run again.

Can he win the nomination?
Barring unforeseen catastrophe, yes. No incumbent president has lost the nomination in the modern era, and Biden has pushed through changes to the Democratic-primary process that make him an even more prohibitive favorite.

What else do we know?
Biden is already the oldest person to be elected president and to serve as president, so a second term would set more records.


Cenk Uygur
(Joshua Roberts / Getty)

Cenk Uygur

Who is he?
A pundit from the party’s left flank, Uygur is probably best know for his The Young Turks network. He was briefly an MSNBC personality and also ran for Congress in California in 2020.

Is he running?
Apparently. He announced his plans on October 11.

Why does he want to run?
Uygur believes that Biden will lose the 2024 election and thus wants to force him to withdraw. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help him decide that this is not the right path,” he told Semafor’s Dave Weigel. “If he retires now, he’s a hero: He beat Trump, he did a good job of being a steward of the economy. If he doesn’t, he loses to Trump, and he’s the villain of the story.”

Who wants him to run?
We’ll see if anyone does. Uygur has a sizable audience—his YouTube channel has millions of subscribers—but that doesn’t mean he has any real presidential constituency.

Can he win the nomination?
No, and he has a deeper problem: He is ineligible to serve, because he was born in Turkey. This isn’t an interesting nuance of the law, as with misguided questions about Ted Cruz’s or John McCain’s eligibility, or disinformation, as with Barack Obama. Uygur is just not a natural-born citizen. He claims he’ll take the matter to the Supreme Court and win in a “slam dunk.” As Biden would say, if he were willing to give Uygur any attention: Lots of luck in your senior year.


Dean Phillips
(Bill Clark / Getty)

Dean Phillips

Who is he?
Phillips, a mildly unorthodox and interesting figure, is a Minnesota moderate serving his third term in the House.

Is he running?
Yes. He launched his campaign October 27 in New Hampshire. That follows a Hamlet act to make Mario Cuomo proud—in July, he said he was considering it; in August, he said he was unlikely to run but would encourage other Democrats to do so; then, after finding no other Democrats willing to run, he said he was not ruling it out.

Why does he want to run?
In an in-depth profile by my colleague Tim Alberta, Phillips said he’s most concerned about beating Trump. “Look, just because [Biden’s] old, that’s not a disqualifier,” Phillips said. “But being old, in decline, and having numbers that are clearly moving in the wrong direction? It’s getting to red-alert kind of stuff.” He added: “Someone had to do this. It just was so self-evident.”

Who wants him to run?
Phillips told Alberta that even some Biden allies privately encouraged him to run—but no one will say it openly. Though many Democrats feel Biden is too old, that doesn’t mean that they’re willing to openly back a challenger, especially a little-known one, or that Phillips can overcome the structural barriers to beating an incumbent in a primary. There’s a reason Phillips couldn’t draft another Democrat to run.

Can he win the nomination?
Almost certainly not in 2024—even if Biden leaves the race.

What else do we know?
His grandmother was “Dear Abby,” and he made a fortune running the Talenti gelato company.


kamala harris
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty)

Kamala Harris

Who is she?
Harris is the vice president of the United States.

Is she running?
No, but if Biden were to bow out, she’d be the immediate favorite.

Why does she want to run?
One problem with her 2020 presidential campaign was the lack of a clear answer to this question. Perhaps running on the Biden-Harris legacy would help fill in the blank.

Who wants her to run?
Some Democrats are excited about the prospect of nominating a woman of color, but generally Harris’s struggles as a candidate and in defining a role for herself (in the admittedly impossible position of VP) have resulted in nervousness about her as a standard-bearer.

Can she win the nomination?
Not right now.


Pete Buttigieg
(Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty)

Pete Buttigieg

Who is he?
Mayor Pete is Secretary Pete now, overseeing the Department of Transportation.

Is he running?
No, but he would also be a likely candidate if Biden stepped away.

Why does he want to run?
Just as he was four years ago, Buttigieg is a young, ambitious politician with a moderate, technocratic vision of government.

Who wants him to run?
Buttigieg’s fans are passionate, and Biden showed that moderates remain a force in the party.

Can he win the nomination?
Not at this moment.


Bernie Sanders
(Scott Olson / Getty)

Bernie Sanders

Who is he?
The senator from Vermont is changeless, ageless, ever the same.

Is he running?
No, but if Biden dropped out, it’s hard to believe he wouldn’t seriously consider another go. A top adviser even says so.

Why does he want to run?
Sanders still wants to tax billionaires, level the economic playing field, and push a left-wing platform.

Who wants him to run?
Sanders continues to have the strong support of a large portion of the Democratic electorate, especially younger voters.

Can he win the nomination?
Two consecutive tries have shown that he’s formidable, but can’t close. Maybe the third time’s the charm?


Gretchen Whitmer
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty)

Gretchen Whitmer

Who is she?
Whitmer cruised to a second term as governor of Michigan in 2022.

Is she running?
No.

Why would she want to run?
It’s a little early to know, but her reelection campaign focused on abortion rights.

Who wants her to run?
Whitmer would check a lot of boxes for Democrats. She’s a fresh face, she’s a woman, and she’s proved she can win in the upper Midwest against a MAGA candidate.

Can she win the nomination?
Not if she isn’t running.


Marianne Williamson
(Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

Marianne Williamson

Who is she?
If you don’t know Williamson from her popular writing on spirituality, then you surely remember her somewhat woo-woo Democratic bid in 2020.

Is she running?
No. Williamson dropped out of the race on February 7, following a distant second-place finish in the South Carolina primary, where she edged out Dean Phillips, but took only 2.1 percent of the vote.

Why did she want to run?
“It is our job to create a vision of justice and love that is so powerful that it will override the forces of hatred and injustice and fear,” she said at her campaign launch. She also said she wanted to give voters a choice: “The question I ask myself is not ‘What is my path to victory?’ My question is ‘What is my path to radical truth-telling?’ There are some things that need to be said in this country.”

Who wanted her to run?
Williamson has her fans, but she didn’t have a clear political constituency.

Could she have won the nomination?
Nah. Williamson was never really a contender, and her impact was muffled by messy staff issues.


J.B. Pritzker
(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune / Getty)

J. B. Pritzker

Who is he?
The governor of Illinois is both a scion of a wealthy family and a “nomadic warrior.”

Is he running?
No.

Why does he want to run?
After years of unfulfilled interest in elected office, Pritzker has established himself as a muscular proponent of progressivism in a Democratic stronghold.

Who wants him to run?
Improbably for a billionaire, Pritzker has become a darling of the Sanders-style left, as well as a memelord.

Can he win the nomination?
Not now.


THIRD-PARTY AND INDEPENDENT


Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune / Getty)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Who is he?
The son of a presidential candidate, the nephew of another, and the nephew of a president, Kennedy is a longtime environmental activist and also a chronic crank.

Is he running?
Yes. He announced his run for the Democratic nomination on April 19, but on October 9 he dropped out of that race to run as an independent.

Why does he want to run?
Running for president is a family tradition. His campaign is arranged around his esoteric combination of left-wing interests (the environment, drug prices) and right-wing causes (vaccine skepticism, anger about social-media “deplatforming”), but tending toward extremely dark places.

Who wants him to run?
Soon after he announced his campaign, Kennedy reached double digits in polls against Biden—a sign of dissatisfaction with the president and of Kennedy’s name recognition. It has since become clear that Democratic voters are not interested in anti-Semitic kookery, though some other fringe elements might be.

What are his prospects?
It is possible, if unlikely, that Kennedy could play a serious spoiler role by drawing enough votes from either Trump or Biden in key states to swing the election. The short answer is no one knows what might happen, but he very well might boost the president’s chances.


Joe Manchin
(Tom Williams / Getty)

Joe Manchin

Who is he?
A Democratic U.S. senator and former governor of West Virginia, he was the pivotal centrist vote for the first two years of Joe Biden’s term.

Is he running?
It’s hard to tell how serious he is. Manchin has been courted by No Labels, the nonpartisan centrist organization, to carry its banner, and on November 9, Manchin announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection to the Senate in 2024, forgoing what would have been the toughest race of his career. His announcement suggested some interest in a third-party bid: “What I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together.” (He never made any noises about a Democratic primary campaign, and wouldn’t have fared well.)

Why does he want to run?
Some mix of true belief and umbrage. I’ve described him as “a middle-of-the-road guy with good electoral instincts, decent intentions, and bad ideas,” but he also periodically seems personally piqued at Biden and the Democrats over slights perceived or real.

Who wants him to run?
No Labels would love to have someone like him, a high-profile figure who’s willing to buck his party and has policies that would appeal to voters from either party. It’s hard to imagine that he’d have much of an organic base of support, but Democrats are terrified that he’d siphon off enough votes to hand Trump or another Republican the win in a three-way race.

What are his prospects?
“Make no mistake, I will win any race I enter,” he said in April. If that is true, do not expect to see him in the presidential race.


Cornel West
(Frederick M. Brown / Getty)

Cornel West

Who is he?
West is a philosopher, a theologian, a professor, a preacher, a gadfly, a progressive activist, an actor, a spoken-word recording artist, an author … and we’re probably missing a few.

Is he running?
Yes. He announced his campaign on the People’s Party ticket on June 5. Soon thereafter he switched to the Green Party, which might have gotten him the best ballot access. But as of October, he’s running as an independent.

Why does he want to run?
“In these bleak times, I have decided to run for truth and justice, which takes the form of running for president of the United States,” he said in his announcement video. West is a fierce leftist who has described Trump as a “neofascist” and Biden as a “milquetoast neoliberal.”

Who wants him to run?
West was a high-profile backer of Bernie Sanders, and it’s easy to imagine him winning over some of Sanders’s fervent fans. Now that he is running as an independent, he will likely have trouble building a base of his own.

What are his prospects?
Let’s hear from Brother West: “Do we have what it takes? We shall see,” he said. “But some of us are going to go down fighting, go down swinging, with style and a smile.”


Jill Stein
(Alex Wong / Getty)

Jill Stein

Who is she?
Here’s what I wrote in 2016: “A Massachusetts resident and physician, she is a candidate of nearly Stassen-like frequency, having run for president in 2012 and a slew of other offices before that.”

Is she running?
So it seems. Now that Cornel West’s campaign (which she briefly managed, whatever that means) has dropped out of contention for the Green Party nomination, she has filed to run on the Green line.

Why does she want to run?
Though she hasn’t laid out a platform yet, you can get a decent sense of what her campaign is likely to look like from her 2016 issues: a pretty standard leftist focus on social justice, the environment, and peace. Her weird comments after the 2016 election make one suspect that vanity plays a role, too.

Who wants her to run?
The Green Party has a small but consistent batch of voters and ballot access in many states. It’s also clear who doesn’t want her to run: Democrats who fear that an even halfway effective Green candidate will cost Joe Biden just enough votes to lose in key swing states. (For the record, the case that she cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 race is shaky.)

What are her prospects?
Since she’s the closest thing the Greens have to a proven quantity, she should be in a strong position for the nomination. And then what? Maybe voters’ dread of a Biden-Trump rematch will drive some non-Greens to her. Or maybe they will mostly be over her.


Liz Cheney
(Gary Gershoff / Getty)

Liz Cheney

Who is she?
The scion of a rock-ribbed Republican family in Wyoming, she served in House GOP leadership before breaking with Trump and losing her 2022 primary.

Is she running?
Maybe. “Several years ago, I would not have contemplated a third-party run,” Cheney told The Washington Post on December 4, but now she says she is reconsidering.

Why does she want to run?
She says she will do “whatever it takes” to deprive Trump of a second term. It also can’t hurt to tease a campaign when you’re launching a new book, as she is.

Who wants her to run?
As a lifelong conservative, Cheney would draw the support of many Never Trump Republicans. Because she has become an unlikely resistance hero, she might also attract independents and even Democrats who detest Trump but aren’t hot on Biden.

What are her prospects?
Cheney wouldn’t win, but that presumably isn’t her goal. Whether she’d do much to hurt Trump is another question. The optimistic case for her is that she’d draw Republican votes but, unlike a No Labels or Jill Stein or Cornel West campaign, not cut into Biden’s margin. That may or may not be true.


This article originally misidentified the governor of New Hampshire as John, not Chris, Sununu.

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