Will Donald Trump be returning as US president in 2024?

Key Points
  • The next US presidential election will take place on 5 November 2024.
  • Trump is one of nine Republican candidates in the running to be the party’s presidential nominee.
  • Sitting President Joe Biden is expected to vie for a second term.
Americans will head to the polls in November next year to elect a president — but will they re-elect a former one?
While sitting president Joe Biden is the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, he may not be the only person to have served in the role to be in the running for it again.
Former US president Donald Trump is also, but what are his chances of returning to the Oval Office?

The 45th President of the United States

Trump served as president from January 2017 to January 2021, after losing the election to current president Biden.

He refused to concede, spreading claims of electoral fraud and initiating a campaign to overturn the result.

Trump is one of nine Republican candidates in the running to be the party’s presidential nominee.

He will go through the pre-selection process to determine whether it will be his name or someone else’s that’s eventually listed on the ballot paper.

Trump – a president unlike any other

Trump was the first president to be – once for alleged abuse of power and once for inciting insurrection – and acquitted.
He is facing legal action over a number of matters.
Trump is due to stand trial next year regarding his role in an attack on the US Capitol by his supporters on 6 January 2021, and separately on federal charges around the alleged illegal retention of secret documents.
is ongoing, after the judge in the case ruled Trump and his company and his net worth.
Rioters make their way into the Capitol building, outnumbering security personnel holding shields.

Donald Trump denies any wrongdoing in regard to the events of 6 January 2021, when his supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington. Source: Getty / Brent Stirton

In a separate case in New York, Trump is accused of falsifying business records in connection with a ‘hush-money’ payment made before the 2016 presidential election, in violation of election laws.

In Georgia, a criminal investigation resulted in Trump being charged with several conspiracy-related charges. The prosecution alleges the former US president and 18 co-defendants “joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome” of the 2020 presidential election in the state.

Trump has also been found guilty of sexually abusing author and columnist E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s, but is appealing the outcome.

What are Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election?

Gordon Flake, chief executive officer of the Perth USAsia Centre at the University of Western Australia, said unless Trump suffered a huge loss in popularity or made the decision not to run, he predicted Trump would become the Republican presidential candidate.
“I think it’s safe to plan at this point, a year out from the election, that he will be on the ballot as the Republican candidate in 2024,” he said.
This is despite the possibility Trump may become a convicted felon following his court cases next year.

“He’s facing these 91 different felony indictments, any one of those could have him be a convicted felon,” Flake said.

A man dressed as former US president Donald Trump behind bars, holding an "Inmate Donald" sign.

Trump’s legal woes inspired this Halloween costume at this year’s Annual Village Halloween parade in New York. Source: Getty / Kena Betancur/AFP

He said while American presidents were restricted to two terms in the highest office in the land, there were few other restrictions on eligibility.

“There are only three restrictions in the Constitution as to who can run for president. They have to be at least 35 years old, natural born and have lived in the United States for 14 years,” Flake said.
However, he said Trump’s role in thecould prove to create a hurdle in his possible path back to the White House.
“The only question is that there’s a 14th amendment that came out after the Civil War, which basically says anyone who’s engaged in an insurrection in the United States or aided and abetted insurrection are ineligible,” Flake said.

“So that that may be a source of some efforts to try to get Trump off the ballot in some states.”

Mark Kenny, a professor at the Australian Studies Institute at the Australian National University, said the former president and real estate magnate’s legal woes may not have too much of an impact on how much support he receives.
Kenny said each time Trump has been accused of breaking a law or of morally poor behaviour, “his vote goes up, his supporters become more rusted on, more rabidly in favour of him”.
Kenny added that Trump then “sells” those accusations to his supporters as being linked to what are “a crooked Department of Justice, a crooked justice system, a crooked media”.

“So I think that if he ends up carrying these convictions, he could still be very competitive in a head-to-head, but at the moment he is the favoured candidate by some distance among Republicans.”

What another Trump presidency could mean for Australia

Kenny said Australian politicians had previously “found a way through that tumultuous term and through the unorthodoxy of Trump” during his presidency “by simply stressing the institutional and foundational nature of the bilateral relationship”.
“Members of the Morrison government, for example, were making observations like: ‘The relationship between the US and Australia is about more than individuals or individual leaders.'”
Kenny said a second Trump presidency could prove more challenging for allies such as Australia given he had since “shown some profoundly undemocratic tendencies”.
“Trump has become significantly more mercurial and extreme and unpredictable, and I would say dangerous to the world, since he was defeated, not least by the fact that he has denied that he was defeated,” he said.

“A Trump presidency Mark Two threatens to be significantly worse and more dangerous for the world than the first time around.”

Scott Morrison and Donald Trump walking together

Trump and former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison during a ceremony in 2019. Source: AAP / Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Kenny said while Australian politicians would have to choose their words carefully, he believes privately any Australian government would have “severe reservations about a second Trump presidency and would have great concern about how they would deal with Donald Trump directly”.

“There would be far less inclination to exchange information with him of a national security nature.”
However, Kenny said Australia would be in a difficult position.
“We’re part of the , which is dominated of course by the US. It has the largest security intelligence apparatus in the Western world.

“Most of the information, therefore, it has control of. It would be a real challenge for Australia to be able to trust the US and of course, there were significant concerns.”

He said the Australian government would likely be less certain about its relationship with the US under a returned Trump government.
“There is the very real possibility that a second Trump presidency would be vastly more unorthodox and could dissolve longstanding defence and security understandings that exist between the two countries.”
Kenny said under Trump, could be in doubt.

“Trump may just tear the whole thing up. He’s that mercurial.”

Trump v Biden

Trump is 77 years old, the same age former US president Ronald Reagan was at the end of his tenure in 1989. At the time, that made Reagan the oldest president at the end of their time in the Oval Office.
However, Biden will have that distinction at the end of his first term. He was already the (aged 78), and would be 82 at his second inauguration if re-elected, a point that political commentators say could work against him.
Joe Biden wearing dark sunglasses, a suit and tie.

US President Joe Biden is hopeful of a second term in the White House, having announced his candidacy for re-election earlier in 2023. Source: Getty / Chip Somodevilla

Flake said Biden’s track record so far was one of “success” and the current president “probably rightly is convinced that he’s the only candidate that can beat Trump for sure”.

While Flake said others such as , and could be strong candidates, sexism and homophobia within sections of the US could make them “easier to vilify” in a political campaign.