The Democratic Party on Saturday approved reordering its 2024 presidential primary, replacing Iowa with South Carolina in the leadoff spot.
The vote took place during a three-day Democratic National Committee (DNC) event in Philadelphia.
Although more changes are possible later this year, the formal endorsement by the DNC is an acknowledgment that the start of the 2024 primary will look very different from the one in 2020. Hundreds of party stalwarts climbed to their feet and cheered after the easy passage by voice vote.
States with early contests play a major role in determining the nominee because White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting states outside the first five. Media attention and policy debates concentrate in those areas, too.
President Joe Biden endorsed the new plan after his win in South Carolina in the 2020 primary, following losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
If the reformatted plan holds, South Carolina would hold its primary first, on Feb. 3, 2024. New Hampshire and Nevada would keep their early slots, followed by Georgia and Michigan. Iowa’s new date has not been determined.
“The Democratic Party looks like America and so does this proposal,” said DNC chair Jaime Harrison, a South Carolinian. The change “continues to make us stronger and elevates the backbone of our party,” he said.
In a Dec. 1, 2022, letter, Biden told the DNC that “we must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window.”
Four of the first five new states under the Democrats’ new plan are battlegrounds, meaning the eventual party winner would be able to lay groundwork in important general election spots. That’s especially true for Michigan and Georgia, both of which voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016 before flipping to Biden in 2020.
For 2024, though, the new plan could have little impact if Biden runs for reelection and doesn’t see any major primary challengers. Biden, who has not yet announced a 2024 decision, was greeted with cheers of “four more years” while addressing the convention on Friday.
Democrat officials have also spoken of revisiting the voting calendar before the 2028 presidential election.
In discussion before the vote, Iowa and its allies argued the action could be seen as amounting to betrayal. Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart said that Republicans in her state were already accusing Democrats of “hav[ing] turned their back on Iowa and on rural America.” And the party’s former chair, Ross Wilburn, had said Democrats “cannot forget about entire groups of voters in the heart of the midwest without doing significant damage to the party for a generation.”
But Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), drawing sustained applause, said: “No one state should have a lock on going first.”
Despite the approval, the final slate is not yet set. South Carolina, Nevada, and Michigan have met party requirements to join the party’s new top five. But Georgia may not change its Democratic primary calendar date without the Republicans also doing so, and New Hampshire law allows the state’s governor to move the primary there to be first in the nation.
The Republican Party has voted not to change its 2024 primary order, meaning the campaign has already begun in Iowa. Only former President Trump, former Cranston, Rhode Island Mayor Steve Laffey, and former Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton have announced bids so far.
“The DNC has decided to break a half-century precedent and cause chaos by altering their primary process, and ultimately abandoning millions of Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times