Democrats are taking steps to make South Carolina the first primary contest, replacing Iowa

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A key executive of the Democratic Party voted Wednesday to place the South Carolina primary at the beginning of the 2024 presidential primary calendar, replacing Iowa’s longstanding role as first-in-the-nation after calls for a more diverse state to Presidential nomination process begins .

Important facts

The Democratic National Committee’s governing body voted to hold the 2024 primary in South Carolina on February 3, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on February 6, Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27 ahead of Super Tuesday.

The Iowa caucuses had led the Democrats’ calendar since 1972, but critics say the state — which is more than 90% white — does not properly reflect the party’s diverse national constituency.

President Joe Biden threw his support behind South Carolina on Thursday, telling the Rules and Bylaws Committee in a letter, “We need to make sure voters of color have a voice when they choose our nominee much earlier in the process.”

The calendar change still requires approval from the full DNC, which will hold a meeting early next year.


Republicans appear determined to keep Iowa early on their calendar. Former President Donald Trump slammed the Democratic vote in a statement on Friday, saying the party is “turning its back on the good, hard-working people of Iowa who deserve their voices to be heard.”

What to look out for

The change creates a potentially awkward and confusing clash between the DNC and state party officials in Iowa, since the state has rules requiring it to have the first contest. It’s possible that Iowa could ignore the Democrats’ calendar and set its own date, but the party could respond by penalizing candidates running there in place of the agreed-upon early states.

key background

In 2020, a political firestorm erupted in Iowa when a series of computer glitches on election night left it unclear which Democratic candidate had won the contest, prompting further scrutiny as to why Iowa should even have the status of the nation’s first country. The holding of meetings at the beginning of the calendar, which require public votes in a long and confusing process, has also been sharply criticized. In his letter on Thursday, Biden urged the party to abolish caucuses entirely.

Crucial quote

“Too often over the past fifty years, candidates have dropped out or had their candidatures sidelined by the press and pundits because of poor performance in small states early in the process, before voters of color have cast a ballot,” Biden said in his letter.

Further reading

Democrats take a step closer to making South Carolina the first elementary school (New York Times)

Democrats reportedly toast Iowa from start of primary calendar (Forbes)

It could be game over for the Iowa caucuses (Politico)

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