Democratic National Committee Moves Toward South Carolina as First Presidential Primary

WASHINGTON D.C. — On Friday, Dec. 2, a key panel of the Democratic National Committee voted to recommend a presidential primary schedule proposed by President Joe Biden with South Carolina earning the coveted “first in the nation” spot. The proposed 2024 Democratic primary calendar would entail: South Carolina on Feb. 3, New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27. For decades, Iowa and New Hampshire have enjoyed outsized emphasis as the first two election contests in presidential primaries. Iowa’s town-hall style caucuses have faced logistical snafus in the past two cycles and the electorate is more white than the Democratic Party’s electorate writ large, prompting the search for a replacement first state. 

Biden’s endorsement of South Carolina comes as the party looks towards recognizing the diversity of its constituencies; Biden also won big in South Carolina in 2020, as the support of the state’s Black voters and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) propelled him towards the Democratic nomination. (Biden came in fourth and fifth place in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively.) 

Leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire aren’t happy about the change. “I strongly oppose the president’s deeply misguided proposal, but make no mistake, New Hampshire’s law is clear, and our primary will continue to be First in the Nation,” U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) commented in response. Nevada’s two Democratic senators also released a statement over their “serious concern” with the proposed order; Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) noted that it “elevates a state that doesn’t align with [the Democratic Party’s] own priorities.” As a diverse swing state, Nevada is also vying for the number one spot. Primary order can make a difference in the selection of a nominee that can win nationwide; some have critiqued South Carolina for being a fairly conservative, non-swing state. The early states have until Jan. 5 to confirm the assigned dates.