Iowa is too white: Dems to shake up 2024 nominating calendar, search for more diverse state to kick off

With the midterm elections — for the most part — behind us, the Democratic Party is focusing on 2024 and looking to potentially upend 50 years of tradition by shaking up the top of their 2024 presidential nominating calendar.

The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Rules and Bylaws Committee will gather in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss whether Iowa and New Hampshire should keep their traditional spots as the first two races in the DNC’s presidential primary and caucus schedule, or whether they should find “a more diverse state to kick off the cycle,” according to Fox News.

Originally planned for September, the meeting was put on hold until after the midterm elections to ensure changes in the calendar wouldn’t harm Democratic candidates who were facing re-election. Now that the threat has passed, “DNC officials on the crucial panel have been bombarded with calls, texts, and emails amid a deluge of public lobbying and behind the scenes jockeying,” Fox News reports.

Mostly rural, and predominately white, Iowa and New Hampshire have long been criticized by Democrats who say the states don’t represent the party. The third and fourth voting spots on the calendar are Nevada and South Carolina, respectively, which some Dems argue are far more diverse.

Ahead of the meeting, it appears clear that Iowa will be ousted from the top spot, according to Democratic sources who cite the embarrassing mishaps and delayed reporting in the 2020 presidential caucus results.

In addition to the “glitches” in 2020, Iowa runs a caucus rather than a primary — a practice the DNC has been phasing out — and with Iowa shifting away from a battleground state and into the red, Nevada may be a better fit to kick off the cycle.

Last year, Nevada Democrats passed a law to transform its presidential caucus into a primary and move its race ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Michigan and Minnesota are also looking to “replace Iowa as the Midwestern representative among the early voting, or so-called carve out, states,” Fox News reports.

Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and other states interested in climbing the calendar ladder were required by the DNC to reapply for early state status in the 2024 calendar earlier this year, with the DNC considering adding a fifth state to the “carve-out status” list.

“The four existing early states plus 13 others are still in contention to land pre-window status,” Fox News explains.

One potential hurdle is a New Hampshire state law that allows the secretary of state to move up the date of its contest in order to preserve its primary tradition. Should the DNC keep New Hampshire in its secondary position, but move another state to the top slot, Fox News predicts “a showdown would likely occur.”

“The big questions that the committee needs to decide are whether New Hampshire or Nevada lead off the Democrats’ presidential nominating calendar and which Midwestern state — Michigan or Minnesota — replaces Iowa,” said one source familiar with the thinking of the Rules and Bylaws Committee.

 

Awarding a fifth state with carve-out status seems unlikely.

“I don’t think there’s much of a desire for a fifth state in the carve out calendar… it is still on the table but no one is talking about it,” the source said.

The committee meeting is set to take place on Friday and a decision is expected on Saturday. President Joe Biden, considered “the titular head” of the Democratic Party, and his advisors will play a role in the decision-making process, but a formal White House announcement is not expected.

Indeed, should Biden choose to run again in 2024, with little in the way of challengers expected, any changes to the primary calendar will likely have more of an impact in the 2028 cycle.

However, according to Iowa Democratic Party chair Ross Wilburn, nixing Iowa from the top spot will do significant damage to the Democratic Party.

“It’s critical that small rural states like Iowa have a voice in our Presidential nominating process,” Wilburn wrote. “Democrats cannot abandon an entire group of voters in the heart of the Midwest without doing damage to the party for a generation. We need to win states like Iowa in order to grow our Democratic majorities and win the White House.”

Longtime Democratic strategist Mike Czin, who served on the DNC and on former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, has lost patience with Iowa.

“Iowa had numerous opportunities to reform and improve their election administration of the caucus and they failed,” he said. “It wasn’t just in 2020. They had issues for years. Their opportunity to modernize has passed.”

Meanwhile, New Hampshire is confident it will remain as the nation’s first presidential primary state.

Speaking last week to Fox News, state Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley said, “We’ve said right from the get-go that we feel New Hampshire is going to remain first-in-the-nation. New Hampshire does a terrific job in hosting the first in the nation primary and should continue to do so. End of story.”

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