President Biden urges Democrats to drop Iowa from their early-primary lineup in favor of South Carolina. The Democrats’ early-primary calendar is about to undergo a substantial overhaul, breaking with precedent and further decoupling the party’s nomination process from the Republicans.
President Biden has urged Democrats to drop Iowa from the early nominating contests of 2024, Democratic Party officials announced at a private dinner on Thursday, while elevating South Carolina to “first-in-the-nation” status and elevating battleground states Georgia and Michigan to coveted early slots as well.
Race is an issue, as Democrats have become more uncomfortable with ceding so much power to the mostly white communities of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Despite being the backbone of the Democratic Party, black voters have been overlooked in the early primary process, Biden wrote to the Democratic National Committee on Thursday. According to Biden, we must guarantee that people of color have a say in selecting our nominee far earlier in the process and throughout the whole early window. South Carolina was the salvation of candidate Biden’s floundering 2020 primary campaign after Rep. James Clyburn backed him.
Since 2008, the nomination process has begun with the Iowa caucuses and has progressed through New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Biden’s suggested Democratic schedule for 2024 looks like this:
- Tuesday, February 6th: South Carolina
- Tuesday, February 13: Nevada and New Hampshire
- Tuesday, February 20: Georgia
- Tuesday, February 27: Michigan
While it is still early, New Hampshire would not only trail South Carolina but also have to share the primary day limelight with Nevada.
Politicians in New Hampshire reacted quickly. Sen. Maggie Hassan says she vehemently opposes the president’s fundamentally flawed idea. Hassan said to make no mistake, New Hampshire’s legislation is clear, and we will continue to hold the nation’s first primary. Ray Buckley, head of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, was equally defiant: This news is undoubtedly unfortunate, but they will be conducting their primary first.
The Granite State’s first-in-the-nation distinction is enshrined in state law, which requires the Granite State’s primary to be conducted one week before any other similar event. This sets up an exciting battle in the coming months. The party has its own weapon in that it may penalize New Hampshire by limiting the number of delegates from the state to the national nominating convention – or even excluding the entire delegation from attending.
Nevada’s Democratic senators expressed their unhappiness in a tone that appeared to imply that South Carolina was unworthy to go first, not just because it was too conservative but also because it was too black:
Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen stated in a joint statement that the first election should be conducted in a competitive, pro-labor state that promotes voter access and represents all of America’s diversity.
Masto and Rosen appear to be referring to the following demographic statistics from the US Census:
- Black: 14% in the United States, 27% in South Carolina, and 11% in Nevada.
- Asian: 6% in the United States, 2% in South Carolina, and 9% in Nevada.
- Latino: 19% in the United States, 6% in South Carolina, and 30% in Nevada.
As in New Hampshire, Nevada legislators ignored party leaders’ announced intentions, declaring that Nevada Democrats will vote on February 6, 2024 – the day that is supposed to be reserved for South Carolina only. Nevada’s future election cycle has been scheduled for the first Tuesday of February in the future.
As Democrats in New Hampshire and Nevada prepare to take on the party, it’s crucial to remember that the new timetable must first be accepted by the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee – which meets this weekend – and then by the complete party in early 2023.
Even though the rest of the world knew Iowa’s fate was already decided, Iowa Democrat Scott Brennan, who serves on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, claimed Biden’s letter surprised him. He stated that it was a real kick in the teeth. He was taken aback. There was no courtesy call from the White House to any committee member, and the Washington Post broke the story before the committee. So, that told him something about the process.
In addition to having a 90% white population, Iowa has fallen out of favor with the Democratic Party. The state has shifted to the Republican side.
Also, in his letter to the DNC, Biden suggested that Iowa and a few other states and territories abandon their caucus systems entirely, arguing that the time-consuming caucus procedure discourages working-class people from participating. The 2020 Iowa caucuses were a logistical catastrophe.
The Republican Party agreed earlier this year that competitions in 2024 will begin in Iowa before going on to New Hampshire, South Carolina, and ultimately Nevada.