Analysis: Joe Biden's pick makes Kamala Harris the front-runner to win the 2024 US election

Ben Riley-Smith
·2-min read
Kamala Harris was announced as Joe Biden's vice presidential nominee for the November election - Mike Blake/REUTERS
Kamala Harris was announced as Joe Biden's vice presidential nominee for the November election - Mike Blake/REUTERS

Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick may have been about getting over the line on November 3 but his selection will shape the country and the Democratic Party for the next decade, whatever the outcome.

Yes, this was historic. Never before has a woman of colour been picked by a major party for the US presidential ticket. The fact Kamala Harris was also deemed the safe choice says something, perhaps, about this moment in America.

But with his selection Mr Biden has also effectively made Ms Harris the front-runner to become president at the 2024 election and helped usher in the next generation of Democratic leadership.

Mr Biden will be 78 on day one if he wins the US presidency, older than anyone ever elected to the position. Which means the chance of him running for a second term, for which he would be 82 on day one, are extremely slim.

If he wins but serves one term then his vice president, Ms Harris, will be front of the queue to get the Democratic nomination in the next election cycle, being the continuity candidate just as George H W Bush was to Ronald Reagan and Al Gore was to Bill Clinton.

If Mr Biden loses and Donald Trump gets a second term, then again Ms Harris would likely run in 2024, only with the added luster and heightened voter recognition of having been a vice presidential nominee (though defeat would need to be carefully spun).

Such a jump in political recognition was hard to imagine just before Christmas, when despite being widely tipped to win her party’s presidential nomination Ms Harris bowed out before even the first state voted, short on cash and languishing in the polls.

Ms Harris also, to a degree, represents the new. Mr Biden is 77. Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, is 69. Nancy Pelosi, the party’s leader in the House of Representatives, is 80. The Democrats are led by people beyond traditional retirement age.

At 55 Ms Harris is no spring chicken, but she represents the next wave of Democrats waiting to take on the mantle of party leadership after the Obama-Biden years and face the challenges of the 2020s. 

Whatever the result, with Mr Biden’s selection he has sped up the passing of the baton.