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Outsider Democratic Candidates Will Debate In New Hampshire Next Month - What Does This Mean For President Biden Ahead Of The 2024 Election?

Presidential candidates Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips are scheduled to take part next month (January 8) in a debate at the 2024 College Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire. Hosted by New England College, the debate is arranged two weeks before the state’s Democratic primary.

Considered 'long-shot' candidates, the participants include author, teacher and 2020 presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson and representative of Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District since 2019, Dean Phillips.

To fulfil participation requirements, candidates had to be on the Democratic Party ballot for the first-in-the-nation primary and poll above 5%.

Partakers will have 90 seconds to present their opening and closing statements and a minute for their answers. If mentioned by their counterpart, they will be given 30 seconds to respond. Moderated by Josh McElveen, former political director of the radio station WMUR, the debate will be broadcast on SiriusXM at 7pm (EST) on January 8 2024.

At College Convention 2024 from January 7-9, students from across the country will meet presidential candidates, campaign staff, members of the media and political experts. The event is said to be the “most anticipated gathering of college students and young civic-minded leaders of the year”.

The increasing number of ‘outsider’ candidates on both sides of the aisle presents a particular challenge for Democrats and Republicans ahead of the general election in November. Despite little concern that they will actually become president, it is feared these contenders will take votes from the “extraordinarily unpopular” likely nominees of each party, Joe Biden and Donald Trump. For Democrats, there is  growing concern of a 2016 repeat whereby Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, supposedly facilitated Trump’s slim victory after she took a small portion of the vote.

But the polls appear to disagree over the candidates’ success. In a recent Quinnipiac Poll of Democrat and Democratic leaning voters, 12% support Williamson, 4% support Phillips and an overwhelming 74% support the incumbent, President Biden. In a different poll, the American Research Group put Biden at only 51% followed by Phillips at 17% and Williamson at 6%.

All ‘long-shot’ or ‘outsider’ presidential candidates including progressive political commentator, Cenk Uygur, are experiencing the issue of getting their names legally on the ballot. In Florida and Massachusetts for example, only President Biden’s name has been submitted by the Democratic Party.

In a statement to The Hill about her prospects ahead of the Democratic primary, Williamson said “My expectation is that it will be substantive, and my definition of success is that I blow it out of the park”. Phillips’ campaign refused the request for comment. 

One notable absence from January’s debate in New Hampshire, will be Joe Biden. The current president took his name off the state ballot after disagreements between election officials and the DNC over scheduling of the Democratic primaries. In an attempt to relieve any embarrassment from potentially losing to someone on the ballot, Biden supporters including New Hampshire Democrat Kathy Sullivan, have launched a write-in campaign across the state.

Ahead of the 2024 presidential race, one thing is abundantly clear – America is dissatisfied with its options. Amid increased political divisiveness, the emergence of so many ‘outsider’ candidates has highlighted the “intense volatility and uncertainty” around this election.

Edited by: Kaiyah Ellison

Photo credit: Associated Press/Jose Luis Magana/Charles Krupa

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