Donald Trump and Joe Biden secure the number of delegates from their parties

The duel had become apparent and is now practically sealed: US President Joe Biden will probably face Donald Trump in the presidential election. Both were able to secure the necessary number of delegates.

US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump have secured the necessary number of delegates for the nomination as presidential candidates of their respective parties. This means another duel between the two rivals in the presidential election on November 5th. The hot election campaign phase has begun.

The candidates will be officially chosen at the Democratic and Republican party conventions in the summer. The deeply divided USA is now facing a bitter election campaign in which two opponents, each extremely unpopular in the opposing camp, will engage in a merciless head-to-head race for the White House. The election outcome is likely to be groundbreaking for the USA and also decide on the role of the largest economy and military power in the world.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden take threshold for their parties' presidential candidacy

Anyone who wants to become a presidential candidate in the United States must first prevail in internal party votes in the various states. In the primary round on Tuesday evening (local time), Democrats and Republicans voted in the states of Georgia, Mississippi and Washington, among others. A week earlier, Biden and Trump had made significant gains on the important election day “Super Tuesday”. Afterwards, Republican Nikki Haley was thrown out as Trump's last remaining opponent. Right from the start, Biden had no serious competition in his party.

Early in the evening, Biden broke the mark of 1,968 delegate votes required for the Democrats. Trump reached the Republican threshold of 1,215 delegates a few hours later. At the party conventions in July and August, delegates typically have to abide by the voting results in the primaries and cannot simply vote for another candidate.

What is at stake

The race between Trump and Biden is the first rematch of a duel for the White House with the same candidates in around 70 years. The last time the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Democrat Adlai Stevenson ran against each other in such a constellation was in 1952 and 1956. Eisenhower was elected US President both times. While Stevenson admitted his defeat at the time, Trump would not be certain to do so if he lost the election. After losing the 2020 election, the Republican tried to overturn the election results. To this day he spreads the myth of election fraud and leaves it open whether he would recognize the official results of the presidential election this time. This could mean another test for America's democracy.

But a Trump victory would also represent a decisive test for the political institutions and could tear the country apart. He makes no secret of his admiration for autocrats and has already threatened his political opponents with revenge. Most recently, he courted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has ruled with authoritarian methods and undermined the rule of law in his country, at his property in Florida. If there was chaos in Trump's cabinet during his first term in office, he is likely to be better prepared the second time around and to gather loyal assistants around him.

The Western allies are also concerned about a possible second term in office for the Republican, who is relying on isolation. At stake is continued support for Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia, as is the role of the USA as a reliable partner in international alliances such as NATO. Trump also imposed a number of tariffs during his time in the White House – including on products from the European Union. If the Republican moves into the White House again, he could fuel trade conflicts again.

Biden issued a strikingly sharp warning about his political opponent on Tuesday evening. “The threat from Trump is greater than ever,” he warned his compatriots. Donald Trump glorifies dictators and wages a campaign of hostility, revenge and retaliation that threatens the very fabric of the United States.

Which could become a problem for Biden and Trump

However, the 81-year-old incumbent is not free from flaws himself: he is already the oldest US president of all time, and doubts about his mental fitness continue to arise. At the start of a second term he would be 82 and at the end of his presidency he would be 86. Biden regularly gets confused during appearances, searches for words and mixes up people and places. But Trump is no longer young either. If the 77-year-old is re-elected again, he would be the oldest politician to ever move into the White House.

Biden has another problem: in primaries in the states of Michigan and Minnesota, for example, it became clear that some voters were punishing him for his support of Israel in the Gaza war. A considerable number of party supporters refused to vote for Biden there. The two votes were seen as an important test of sentiment because relatively large numbers of Muslims live in the two states. But younger, left-wing Democrats are also criticizing the president in view of the many civilian victims of the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Trump, on the other hand, has to contend with all sorts of legal problems. The ex-president is accused in four criminal cases. This has never happened before in US history. He uses legal maneuvers to try to delay or completely prevent the trials against him. The proceedings are tough: they involve attempted election fraud, the alleged illegal storage of secret documents and possibly illegally recorded hush money payments to a porn actress. Trump maintains his innocence in all proceedings and portrays the investigations against him as an attempt by the Biden camp to sideline him.

What happens next?

Trump will now have to decide who he wants to have at his side in the election campaign as vice president-elect. It is still unclear who will be chosen – a number of names are circulating, including that of his former competitor Haley. When it comes to Biden, it probably comes down to his current Vice President Kamala Harris, who, however, has rather low popularity ratings. It is also unclear whether, in addition to the nephew of former US President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, another celebrity will throw his hat into the ring as an independent candidate – and thus possibly reshuffle the cards again. An independent candidate will not win the race, but could cost Trump or Biden crucial votes.