By Michael Scherer and Tyler Pager December 1, 2022 at 7:49 p.m. CT
The tectonic decision to radically remake his party’s presidential nominating calendar for 2024 came as a shock to party officials and state leaders who had been lobbying hard to gain a place in the early calendar
President Biden has asked leaders of the Democratic National Committee to make South Carolina the nation’s first primary state, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, and hold subsequent weekly primaries in Georgia and Michigan, according to Democrats briefed on the plans. The tectonic decision to remake his party’s presidential nominating calendar for 2024 came as a shock to party officials and state leaders who had been lobbying hard in recent weeks to gain a place in the early calendar, which historically attracts millions of dollars in candidate spending and attention. While many in the party had long anticipated changes, the specific order Biden proposed had generated little if any chatter in Democratic circles. Much of the talk among Democrats had not focused much on either South Carolina going first or Georgia joining the early mix. The proposal is likely to win approval from the Democratic officials, given the support from the leader of the party. By breaking with decades of tradition, Biden’s move is meant to signal his party’s commitment to elevating more variety — demographic, geographic and economic — in the early nominating process. Iowa, a largely White state that historically held the nation’s first Democratic caucus and experienced embarrassing problems tabulating results in 2020, would have no early role in the Biden plan. “We must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window,” Biden wrote in a letter to members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee that was delivered Thursday evening, as members planned to meet for dinner. “As I said in February 2020, you cannot be the Democratic nominee and win a general election unless you have overwhelming support from voters of color — and that includes Black, Brown and Asian American & Pacific Islander voters.”
The new calendar would run through states that were pivotal to Biden’s victory in the 2020 nominating fight and general election, suggesting he is serious about following through on his public statements about intending to seek reelection. In the Thursday letter, Biden told fellow Democrats that he did not want to bind the party to the same calendar in 2028.