Democrats move closer to dropping Iowa’s early slot in presidential nomination process

April 15, 2022

Democratic Party officials approved a resolution on Wednesday, April 13, that would allow up to five states to hold presidential nomination contests before the first Tuesday in March 2024, based on new criteria that could strip Iowa of its first-in-the-nation status for one of the two major parties, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Republicans have shown no sign of changing an early lineup that has traditionally started with Iowa, followed by New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Democrats in 2020 followed a similar schedule, but with Nevada going ahead of South Carolina.

The resolution approved by the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee calls for an early calendar schedule that stresses racial, ethnic and geographic diversity; as well as union representation, competitiveness in general elections, and ability to run a “fair, transparent and inclusive nominating process.”

The committee will hold listening sessions this spring and summer on the proposed changes and also hear presentations from states that want to win an early slot. The deadline for application is June 3, and all four of the traditional early states will have to audition to keep their spots.

Any changes will have to be approved by the full DNC, likely in the late summer or early fall. Some committee members have said the changes are needed to better reflect the party’s diversity and values.

The Iowa caucuses, which have been first since 1972, have also long been criticized for being held in a state that is more rural and has a larger proportion of older and white voters than the nation as a whole. Iowa’s population is 85% non-Hispanic white, compared with a national average of 58%.

Iowa has in the past received international attention—and tens of millions of dollars in TV ads, hotel reservations and more—from being the initial stop on the road to the White House. That makes other states envious, and every four years Iowa is forced to defend its status.

“Caucuses are going to be a hard sell for me,” said Mo Elleithee, a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. “States that don’t offer some diversity are going to be a hard sell.”

Iowa has clung to its caucus tradition in large part because that has allowed it to keep peace with New Hampshire, which has a state law that requires it to hold the first primary.

Research contact: @WSJ