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States still wrangling for leadoff spots in 2024 primary schedule

Tied in to a 1975 state law and a century of tradition, the Granite State has long been first in the nation with the presidential primary schedule right behind the Iowa caucus.

Published: January 26, 2023 11:10am

Updated: January 27, 2023 7:15am

(The Center Square) -

Would New Hampshire really not be able to tout #FITN? South Carolina goes first? Where's Iowa?

Tied in to a 1975 state law and a century of tradition, the Granite State has long been first in the nation with the presidential primary schedule right behind the Iowa caucus that also follows a state law. A Democratic National Committee, in the latest development Wednesday night, is giving New Hampshire and Georgia more time — until June 3 — to make changes as it seeks to alter the schedule.

President Joe Biden, who resurrected his 2020 campaign when the primary tour landed in South Carolina, wants to push the state into the leadoff spot on Feb. 3, 2024. His plan then sends New Hampshire and Nevada to the primary polls three days later, with Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan two weeks after that.

Super Tuesday, with most of the country voting, would be in early March.

Democrats seek the change as a better reflection of their party base, and they say the nation. The states traditionally leading off are considered voting populations that are small and predominantly white.

Biden, in 2020, was beaten in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada before South Carolinians — with 27% of the population black — delivered him a win that changed the course of history. He went on to gain the party’s nomination and joined select company in making former President Donald Trump one of 10 incumbents to lose reelection.

That list since 1900 includes George H.W. Bush (Bill Clinton, 1992), Jimmy Carter (Ronald Reagan, 1980), Gerald Ford (Jimmy Carter, 1976), Herbert Hoover (Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932) and William Howard Taft (Theodore Roosevelt, 1912).

New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has said the changes won’t happen under his watch. He’s called the Democrats’ proposal blackmail and a threat. State Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn says Iowa law has to be followed, too.

The Republican National Committee has already voted to retain the traditional order of Iowa and New Hampshire. It raises the possibility of Georgia Democrats asking their GOP counterparts to hold two primaries. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, sets the date and said he’ll change only if the party’s national committee seeks one.

There is precedent for not following the party calendar. Michigan and Florida did so in 2008; the national committee at first stripped the states of their delegates, but then reversed course before the Democratic National Convention.

There is bipartisan backlash in New England. New Hampshire Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan say they will fight Biden’s calendar proposal. They did not attend his most recent congressional ball. The state does have pattern, because of the town hall campaign style necessary, to be the launching point for underdogs without significant fiscal backing.

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