Dec 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The winners and losers in Democrats' 2024 primary shakeup

Illustration of the state of Nevada as a sticker placed over the state of Iowa.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Iowa will be dethroned under tectonic changes President Biden is pushing to the Democratic primary calendar. South Carolina would be first in the nation.

Why it matters: Biden's proposed shakeup is likely to be adopted. Bigger states will move up — making for a nominating process that may be less picturesque but will be more representative.

The details: Biden has asked DNC leaders to make South Carolina the nation's first primary state, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, The Washington Post reports.

  • Georgia is next. Michigan would be fifth.
  • The changes elevate the diverse, working-class constituencies that powered Biden's primary victories in 2020, The New York Times notes.

What the changes mean:

  1. The calendar benefits moderates and African Americans. The "Clyburn voter" (moderate Black voters) are the key constituency in S.C. — and they'll be all the more important now. Adding Michigan and Georgia to the early voting mix only cements that.
  2. Forget retail politics. The only real "smallish" state left is New Hampshire — and it may get lost in the shuffle, going the same day as Nevada. Dem candidates will need big money and big connections to succeed with this map. Not a whole lot of room for scrappy underdogs.
  3. This also looks like a good calendar for Vice President Harris if Biden doesn't run in 2024, or if she runs in '28. She'd be well positioned in South Carolina and Michigan, and probably Georgia, too.

The bottom line: This is the end of the road for Iowa, which has been central to Democratic nominations going back to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

  • Iowa has no role in the proposed changes. That makes sense, given the way the country and the party have changed. But remember the Hawkeye States helped propel Sen. Barack Obama to the presidency.
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