Democrats have approved a historic shakeup in their presidential primary calendar that was sought by Joe Biden, putting South Carolina first in line and removing Iowa and New Hampshire from their top spots following years of griping about their racial mix.
The sweeping shift reflects an effort to prioritize Black voters who launched Biden to the nomination in 2020.
Dems shake up primary calendar
After his early struggles in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada that year, Biden shocked the nation when he swept South Carolina’s primary with help from black kingmaker James Clyburn (D-Sc.), who provided a critical endorsement.
Biden’s South Carolina victory set the stage for a stunning Super Tuesday comeback that established him as the party’s nominee.
The Democrats’ new calendar would put South Carolina first, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada three days later, then Georgia, and finally, Michigan.
While New Hampshire now shares the number-two slot — previously, it was the first primary — poor Iowa is now totally gone from the sequence of early states, completely, a stunning demotion for a state whose caucus has topped the calendar for fifty years.
The timeline was approved almost unanimously by the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee, with the only no votes coming from Iowa and New Hampshire. Democrats from Iowa and New Hampshire are voicing their displeasure with the changes.
“I strongly oppose the President’s deeply misguided proposal for changes to the primary calendar,” New Hampshire Democratic senator Maggie Hassan tweeted.
The changes come after years of complaining on the left that states like Iowa, which are mostly white, do not reflect the party’s “diversity,” a point Biden made explicit in a letter to the DNC.
“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,” Biden wrote.
“As I said in February 2020, you cannot be the Democratic nominee and win a general election unless you have overwhelming support from voters of color — and that includes Black, Brown and Asian American & Pacific Islander voters.”
Biden also said that “anti-worker” caucuses like Iowa’s should be abolished completely.
Many speculate that the Democratic party is punishing Iowa and New Hampshire for being “too white.” But Democrats say the new set up is an overdue nod to the party’s most reliable voting bloc.
“Being in the early window is important, but being first sends a strong message about how much the president thinks of the most loyal and consistent voting bloc in our party, and that’s Black voters,” South Carolina-based Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright said. “It’s a recommendation from the president.”