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Democrats dramatically shook up the all-important presidential primary schedule by downgrading traditional first-in-the-nation states and moving up more-diverse states that better represent the party’s big tent base of support.
The new plan would put South Carolina first, with a vote on Feb. 3, 2024. New Hampshire and Nevada would go next just three days later. Georgia will follow Feb. 13 with Michigan on Feb. 27.
President Biden pushed for the changes which will increase the influence of Black voters as well as empowering the sprawling battleground states that effectively decide presidential general elections.
“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 letter in his personal capacity. “It is time to give them a louder and earlier voice in the process.”
After the first five states, a big chunk of the rest of the country would vote as part of the so-called Super Tuesday primary soon afterward.
Biden also asked party leaders to end the caucuses that severely restrict voter participation, effectively killing the chances of Iowa, which has a predominantly white population, kicking off the contest as it has in recent times.
The Iowa caucuses was long seen as likely to be bounced from the spotlight after the 2020 Democratic contest ended in a chaotic virtual dead heat between Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
New Hampshire was also in the crosshairs because of its homogenous nearly all-white population, although it retained a key spot in the new setup.
The changes will be implemented in 2024, when Biden says he expects to run for reelection. If Biden decides to step down, there would likely be a crowded field vying to be the party’s standard bearer.
Republicans have already decided to keep Iowa’s caucus as the first contest in its 2024 calendar.