Mar 24, 2022 - Politics

Iowa caucuses' first-in-nation status at risk

Illustration of a group of raised hands contrasted next to a single large hand voting
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa is again fighting to retain its first-in-nation Democratic caucuses.

  • But this year's argument is a harder sell thanks to the hiccups of 2020, longtime caucus advisor Jeff Link and former Iowa Democratic Party chairperson Scott Brennan told Axios Wednesday.

Why it matters: Hosting the first caucuses leverages political influence and is an economic boon for the state.

Driving the news: National Democratic Party officials this week circulated a draft proposal that would set the 2024 nominating calendar based on factors that would likely exclude Iowa, the Washington Post reports.

  • Diversity, competitiveness in the general election and the ability to administer a fair process are the criteria.

By the numbers: Iowa is the sixth-least diverse state in the nation, according to 2020 census data.

  • It leans more Republican, with GOP voters holding the plurality of active voter registrations, according to data from the Iowa Secretary of State.

Flashback: Iowa's caucus status has always had a questionable legitimacy that it has successfully defended for decades.

  • Iowa caucus debacles have occurred in both parties: Republicans in 2012 and Democrats in 2020, when an app failed, initial results contained errors and the winner wasn't announced until days later.

What they're saying: There's more consensus among other states this year on which ones should be in the early window, Link said.

  • And, unlike Barack Obama, President Biden didn't win Iowa and has not advocated for the state to continue going first, he added.

Yes but: Don't count Iowa out just yet, warned Brennan, who represents Iowa on the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC).

  • There's a strong argument that the state's long track record and first status is worth salvaging, he said.

What's next: The draft proposal is expected to be discussed during an RBC virtual meeting Monday.

Of note: Iowa's Republican caucus status appears to be safe for 2024.

  • Jeff Kaufmann, who leads Iowa's GOP, chairs the party's Presidential Nominating Commission.
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