A major change to how Democrats vote in the presidential primaries is in the works as the Democratic National Committee is moving South Carolina to be the first primary in the nation, which could bypass Iowa and New Hampshire.
This move in the Democratic primary would eliminate decades of tradition with Iowa and New Hampshire leading the way. However, we’ve seen in several election cycles that voters have pushed for other states to go first.
There are basic demographic reasons for this move, but some people question if it’s a political calculation that shows President Joe Biden will be running for a second term.
For the past 50 years, Iowa has been the first state to vote in the county with a caucus. Usually that would be followed immediately behind by New Hampshire, which has had the first in the nation primary for around 100 years.
Now, DNC officials are looking to move up to South Carolina so it can be the first state to vote with other diverse states like Michigan and Nevada, which also vote early.
“The voters of South Carolina and Michigan look like more of the county than Iowa and New Hampshire are. They’re much more diverse,” said Duval County Democratic Party Chair Daniel Henry.
Henry told News4JAX that he feels it’s important the Democratic Party is more representative of its voters in key early contests.
“They have urban centers and rural centers. Their voters are spread through the state, where candidates have to campaign as they would in New Hampshire and Iowa,” Henry said.
Political analyst Rick Mullaney suspects there may be more to this plan than simply wanting a diverse state. In 2020, Biden solidified his lead in the primary in South Carolina and that propelled him to win the nomination.
Mullaney suspects this indicates Biden will run again and it protects him from any challengers.
“In part, I think Biden’s team was pushing for change. This change, this schedule is advantageous to the president. It does make sense, and they can justify it in a number of ways. Diversity in the Democratic Party, diversity all represented in South Carolina,” Mullaney said.
So, what happens to Florida and Georgia? Well, the DNC wants to move Georgia into the first four states because it’s become a critical battleground state in recent elections. For Florida, the Sunshine State will stay put right before Super Tuesday, making it the largest state to vote by that point in the process.
The question still lies if Republicans will make a similar move. As of now, reports show the GOP will keep Iowa and New Hampshire as the first states in its primary but there could be a push to move Georgia up on the calendar.
The DNC does have some risk of New Hampshire and Iowa rebelling and trying to move its voting sate so they’re still first. New Hampshire is the most likely and could risk losing delegates at the national convention if they buck the party to go first.