Speed Reads

Hawkeye Goodbye

Biden reportedly asks Democrats to make South Carolina 1st voting state in 2024 primaries, demoting Iowa

President Biden has asked the Democratic National Committee to put South Carolina first on the 2024 primary calendar, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada, Georgia, and Michigan, DNC members learned at a private dinner on Thursday, according multiple news organizations. The Democrats have been discussing shaking up the primary schedule for months, but elevating South Carolina to pole position and putting Georgia in the first five states "came as a shock to party officials and state leaders," The Washington Post reports

Biden explained in a letter to DNC members Thursday that the Democratic Party "must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window." Any successful Democratic nominee must "have overwhelming support from voters of color," he said, and also win over "working class Americans" and "union households."

Biden specifically proposed that South Carolina — widely credited with saving his presidential bid in 2020 — hold its Democratic primary on Feb. 6, New Hampshire and Nevada follow on Feb. 13, Georgia vote on Feb. 20, and Michigan round out the early states on Feb. 27, Politico reports. Iowa, the largely White state whose caucus has led off the Democratic primary calendar since 1976, "would have no early role in the Biden plan," the Post notes.

Iowa didn't help its cause by badly bungling its 2020 caucus, but Biden proposed in his letter that "our party should no longer allow caucuses as part of our nominating process" regardless, calling them "restrictive" and "anti-worker."

South Carolina Democrats were ecstatic with Biden's plan, Iowa Democrats were disappointed, and New Hampshire — which traditionally votes second but by state law holds the first primary — was livid. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) called Biden's plan "tremendously disappointing," Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) deemed it "deeply misguided," and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said "the DNC did not give New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation primary and it is not theirs to take away."

Nevertheless, the DNC is expected to ratify Biden's preferred calendar next year. It's not clear how that will work with the Republican primaries, which will follow the traditional Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada order, the Republican National Committee affirmed last spring.

Whatever happens in 2024, Biden urged the DNC to "review the calendar every four years, to ensure that it continues to reflect the values and diversity of our party and our country."