Saturday, February 4, 2023

Democrats Dance With Destiny

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison is set to meet with party officials from across the country in Philly today to vote on the new primary schedule replacing South Carolina with Iowa as first in the nation to decide 2024...if there even is a primary.
Democrats are poised to reorder their presidential primary schedule beginning next year, replacing Iowa with South Carolina in the leadoff spot as part of a major overhaul meant to empower Black and other minority voters critical to the party’s base of support.

The Democratic National Committee has worked for months to revamp the start of its voting calendar, and the full membership is set to vote on the plan on Saturday.

Although changes are still possible throughout the summer and beyond, the formal endorsement during the party’s meeting in Philadelphia is acknowledgement that the start of 2024′s primary will look very different from the one in 2020.

The proposal has been championed by President Joe Biden and would have South Carolina hold its primary on Feb. 3. That would be followed three days later by New Hampshire and Nevada, the latter of which is swapping the caucus it used to hold in favor of a primary. Georgia would vote fourth on Feb. 13, followed by Michigan on Feb. 27, with much of the rest of the nation set to vote on Super Tuesday in early March.

“This isn’t just about us,” Trav Robertson, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, told a gathering of the DNC Southern caucus earlier this week. “This is a regional thing, and it’s making us all look good.”

States voting early in the primary have major influence since White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting areas outside the first five. The move marks a major shift from the current calendar, which had started with Iowa’s caucuses for the last five decades, followed by New Hampshire’s primary and subsequent contests in Nevada and South Carolina.

DNC chair Jaime Harrison, a former Senate candidate from South Carolina, said the new schedule “allows the South to stand up, for our voices to be heard.”

Four of the five states that will start Democrats’ new primary schedule are presidential battlegrounds, meaning the eventual party winner can lay groundwork in important general election locales. Michigan and Georgia both voted for Donald Trump in 2016 before flipping to Biden in 2020.

The exception is South Carolina, which hasn’t backed a Democrat in a presidential race since 1976, leading some to argue that the party shouldn’t be concentrating so many early primary resources there. But the state’s population is nearly 27% Black, and African American voters represent Democrats’ most consistent base of support. The change means many will have an earlier impact on the Democratic primary than ever before.

The revamped Democratic calendar could be largely meaningless for 2024 since Biden is expected to seek reelection with no major primary challenge — and the DNC has already pledged to revisit the voting calendar before the 2028 presidential election
Everyone seems to think Biden is going to drop out or something, and that this is all for show for 2028, but it's still an important precedent. It was South Carolina that put Biden back in the race, with Black voters leading the way over Bernie Sanders. Biden knows in, Harrison knows it, the DNC knows it.
I expect this to go off relatively smoothly today. We'll see.

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