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South Carolina replaces Iowa to start the calendar.
South Carolina replaces Iowa to start the calendar. Photo: Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Democrats approve new primary calendar, siding with diversity over ritual

Members of the DNC overwhelmingly approved changes to the 2024 presidential primary during its Winter meeting in Philadelphia over the weekend.

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The Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting took place in Philadelphia over the weekend at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown in Center City, where members of the DNC overwhelmingly approved on Saturday morning, Feb. 4, to reorder the presidential primary schedule in 2024, putting diversity ahead of tradition. 

"The Democratic Party looks like America and so does this proposal," said DNC chair Jaime Harrison, a South Carolina native. The change "continues to make us stronger and elevates the backbone of our party," he added. 

The vote comes off of a joint appearance and speeches from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday night, prompting further speculation regarding a forthcoming re-election campaign announcement. 

"We're just getting started," Biden told a loud crowd. "So let me ask a simple question. Are you with me?" 

CBS News first reported on Feb. 3 that Biden’s re-election announcement would come before his forthcoming State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 7. 

The changes — recommended by Biden and his cabinet — emphasize diversity over tradition, upending a political ritual of over a century. Iowa will be replaced by South Carolina in the leadoff spot on Feb. 3, empowering the Black community and boosting primaries in Nevada, Georgia and Michigan.

"It's a big day for the state of South Carolina, and I would say not just South Carolina, but our region," said Trav Robertson, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. "It is a clear indication that the DNC is no longer going to take the South for granted."

In Iowa, the campaign has already started, as the Republican Party voted not to change its primary order. 

"The DNC has decided to break a half-century precedent and cause chaos by altering their primary process, and ultimately abandoning millions of Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire," Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. 

With the new schedule, New Hampshire and Nevada would both host their primaries on Feb. 6, with Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27 — two new dates added to the early window. 

Iowa will also no longer be a part of the early nominating process. 

The Republican National Committee still has its original lineup of states : Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. 

“We are overdue in changing this primary calendar,” said Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, who argued for the state to join the early window. “No one state should have a lock on going first.” 

But Iowa officials disagree. 

"I vigorously support our president and I support the principles that guided the calendar," said Rita Hart, chair of the Iowa Democratic party. "But I cannot support a proposal that further erodes Democratic party support in my state and the entire middle part of the country."

Obstacles still remain to be able to ratify the calendar, especially with New Hampshire and Georgia where Republican legislatures and governors are blocking them from changing the primary dates. 

In New Hampshire, elected officials and party leaders have said that they cannot adhere to the DNC’s new calendar because it interferes with state law that requires that they host the first presidential primary a week before any other state, and even vowing to hold it no matter the DNC’s decision.

The changes could also end up meaningless for 2024 since Biden is expected to run without a major primary challenge. The DNC has also vowed to review the voting calendar before the 2028 presidential election.

For now, the calendar is not set in stone as the DNC will meet again in June to see where Georgia and New Hampshire are in regards to meeting party requirements. 

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