The Democratic National Committee has decided to make South Carolina the first voting state for their 2024 presidential primary, a decision it said was made in part to prioritize non-white voters.
Thanks to the move, the Palmetto State has jumped ahead of both Iowa and New Hampshire, which have both historically cast their ballots for president before South Carolina. According to the DNC, the decision was made in part to prioritize black and Latino voters.
“This calendar does what is long overdue,” DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said. “It puts black voters at the front of the process in South Carolina. It keeps Nevada, where Latinos have been building power … And it adds Michigan, the heartland, where unions built the middle class of this nation. And Georgia, the forefront of the new South.”
“The Democratic Party looks like America,” Harrison claimed. “And so does this proposal.”
Voting for the Democratic presidential nominee is now slated to begin in South Carolina on February 3, 2024, followed on February 6 by New Hampshire and Nevada, Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27. To comply with the DNC’s recommendation, both Georgia and New Hampshire would need to amend state rules meaning that the schedule has not been officially finalized.
Iowa Democratic Chair Rita Hart was upset with the decision, saying that it showed that Democrats had stopped caring about rural voters. She said the decision demonstrated that Democrats had “turned their back on Iowa and rural America.”
Largely beginning in 2016 with former President Donald Trump’s White House victory, rural areas, especially those places with lower-income white people, have voted overwhelmingly Republican, while cities and suburbs have generally favored Democrats.
The decision came after President Joe Biden had told Democrats that he wanted the move to be made.
“For decades, Black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process,” Biden wrote in a December letter. “We rely on these voters in elections but have not recognized their importance in our nominating calendar. It is time to stop taking these voters for granted, and time to give them a louder and earlier voice in the process.”
The move could also boost Biden’s chance if he runs again and is contested, as his 2020 campaign was floundering until he won South Carolina where he was backed by key Democrat leaders.
The decision also follows a chaotic 2020 primary in Iowa where no candidate emerged as the clear winner, thanks to counting missteps and delays.