The first presidential primaries and caucuses are still more than a year away, but the next several months will see a series of marquee events in the political world that will almost certainly carry weight come 2024.
Both Republicans and Democrats are set to make big decisions for their parties in the coming weeks, while a handful of states will hold elections in November, giving political observers an early preview of what the landscape may look like next year.
Here are five political events happening this year that offer some hints about 2024:
Biden’s reelection announcement (Date pending)
One of the biggest questions for Democrats over the past two years has been whether President Biden will seek a second term in the White House. And it’s become increasingly apparent that he has every intention of doing so.
The president is expected to make his plans known in the coming weeks, with a February announcement sometime around his State of the Union address emerging as the likely time frame.
If Biden ultimately moves forward with a reelection campaign, it would likely freeze out other Democrats who may have White House ambitions of their own. That could spare the party from a potentially contentious 2024 primary season and allow Biden to focus solely on making his case for a second term in office.
Biden would still enter his reelection campaign with some looming questions. At 80 years old, he’s already the oldest person to serve in the Oval Office. If he wins a second term in November 2024, he would be 82 by the time he’s sworn in for his second term.
Of course, former President Trump is running for the White House once again, and he isn’t much younger than Biden. One question that remains is whether Biden’s presence in the race could nudge Republicans toward a younger nominee who might be able to draw a clearer contrast with the incumbent president.
The GOP’s winter meeting (Jan. 25-27)
The Republican National Committee (RNC) is set to choose its next chair later this month when it meets in Dana Point, Calif. And while its current leader, Ronna McDaniel, is seeking another term in the GOP’s top organization post, her reelection isn’t as safe as she and her allies had hoped.
McDaniel, who has served as chair for nearly six years, was handpicked for the role by Trump after his surprise victory in the 2016 presidential contest.
But she has faced increasing pressure from within the GOP after the party drastically underperformed in the 2022 midterm elections, when Republicans blew a chance at winning back control of the Senate and clinched only a narrow majority in the House.
On Monday, the Alabama Republican Party’s steering committee issued a statement of no confidence in McDaniel, saying that it would not back her for another term as RNC chair.
And while McDaniel has earned a reputation as one of the former president’s most ardent defenders in the GOP, she’s facing challenges from two other Trump loyalists, RNC committee member Harmeet Dhillon and pillow salesman Mike Lindell, who has become one of the most vocal proponents of Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was rigged against him.
Whoever emerges from the contest will be tasked with leading the party committee through the 2024 presidential race. But the presence of Trump loyalists in the race could complicate things for those in the GOP who see the former president as at least partially responsible for the party’s current challenges.
The Democrats’ winter meeting (Early February)
Top Democrats are marching forward with a plan to drastically reshape the party’s traditional presidential primary calendar, hoping to give more racially diverse states a greater say in the nominating process.
That plan will go up for a major vote before the full Democratic National Committee (DNC) early next month during the group’s winter meeting in Philadelphia.
Under the new proposal, South Carolina would lead off the primary calendar on Feb. 3, 2024, supplanting Iowa, which has held the first presidential caucuses for decades. New Hampshire and Nevada would come next on Feb. 6, followed by Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27.
If the committee adopts the new proposal, it would radically change not only the traditional voting schedule, but the way presidential candidates approach the campaign.
Of course, there are still obstacles in the way. Two of the five states that fall into the proposed early primary window — Georgia and New Hampshire — have asked the DNC for an extension to try and meet the committee’s requirements for holding the early primaries.
What’s more, Republicans have already adopted their primary calendar, keeping the traditional order of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. That fact also makes it harder for Democrats to reorder their schedule.
CPAC (March 1-4)
The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is set to return to the Washington, D.C., area in March after spending the last two years in Florida and Texas.
That brings the prominent gathering of conservative activists and GOP officials back to neutral territory as Trump, who now lives in Florida, sets off on another presidential bid and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) weighs a 2024 campaign of his own.
Over the past several years, CPAC has materialized as something of a pep rally for Trump and his wing of the Republican Party. One big question surrounding this year’s event, however, is whether it’ll strike a different tone.
For one, Trump is no longer seen as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, with recent polling showing DeSantis pulling ahead of the former president in a hypothetical primary matchup. What’s more, the party is still grappling with the fallout from the 2022 midterms and whether Trump remains the person best suited to lead Republicans into the next election cycle.
Election Day 2023 (Nov. 7)
Three states — Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi — are set to hold statewide elections this year. But the biggest bellwether is shaping up to be Virginia, where voters will decide party control of their state legislature in November.
Virginia had been on a steady march to the left in recent years. But that all changed in 2021, when Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-Va.) defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republicans captured a narrow majority in the state House.
This year, Republicans will not only try to hold their state House majority, but capture control of the state Senate, where Democrats narrowly hold power. How those legislative races shake out could offer some clues about the political environment heading into 2024.
At the same time, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is seeking a second term in the governor’s mansion, and a crowded field of Republicans is already vying to challenge him.
Beshear won his office in 2019, when he only narrowly defeated now-former Gov. Matt Bevin (R). But the political climate back then was more favorable for Democrats, and he’s expected to have an even tougher race ahead of him this year.