Jun 23, 2022 - Politics

Iowa Democrats fight for the state's caucus status in D.C.

Illustration of the state of Iowa with a hand submitting a ballot and stars and stripes
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa Democrats are making their pitch to the Democratic National Committee today on why the state's caucuses should remain first in the nation for the party's presidential nominee process.

Driving the news: 17 states, including Iowa, are asking the DNC this week to choose them as one of the first five states to hold their primary or caucus, Iowa Capital Dispatch reports.

  • This comes after the DNC moved to change its presidential nomination process in April, which stripped Iowa of its historic early voting status.
  • Instead, states are applying to be first and the DNC will judge them on three metrics: diversity, competitiveness, and feasibility.

What's new: In response to past complaints about the Iowa caucuses, including their lack of accessibility, the Iowa Democratic Party is proposing new changes to its system, including:

  • Allowing Democrats to vote early in person or by returning mail-in ballots 14 to 28 days prior to caucus day.
  • Eliminating realignments and having voters only mark their top choice.

Of note: Because of state law, Iowa Democrats cannot change to a primary system, which is preferred by the DNC, Scott Brennan, former IDP chair told Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Between the lines: Based on the three metrics, Iowa comes up short in several ways.

  • It's less diverse than other Midwest states that applied to go early, including Illinois and Michigan.
  • The chaos of the 2020 caucus results also brings feasibility into question, though IDP Chair Ross Wilburn hopes the new system resolves prior issues.

What they're saying: While state party leaders are fighting in D.C. to retain the caucuses, here in Iowa, some prominent local Democrats are approaching the issue with a "collective shoulder shrug," the Des Moines Register reports.

  • "Everybody seems to be either burnt out or kind of at maximum output," Iowa Democratic operative and former state party chair Derek Eadon told the Register.
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