If South Carolina votes first in the Democratic presidential primary, it will

Despite objections from leaders and state party officials in Georgia and New Hampshire, a Democratic National Committee panel voted Wednesday to move forward with President Biden’s plan to overhaul the party’s 2024 presidential primary process. Biden wants to remove Iowa’s caucus as the leadoff on the nominating calendar — a position it has held since 1972 — and instead give first-state honors to South Carolina, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day. Georgia and finally Michigan.

The because The changes seem straightforward — and practical: Biden and other Democrats have said they want a calendar that accurately reflects the party’s diverse slate of voters. Iowa is a small state whose demographic makeup is much less similar to the larger Democratic Party than South Carolina, which is more racially diverse. (In 2020, black voters made up 60 percent of the Democratic electorate.) Throwing the primary calendar into disarray, Biden wrote in a letter to the DNC committee that it was “unacceptable” that black voters, who have been the backbone of the Democratic electorate for decades, “are in the early primary process.” pushed back” and it’s time to “give them a louder and earlier voice in the process.”

But does earlier necessarily mean louder? And will Biden’s move really deliver? all Black voters have a bigger voice — or is that more of a reward for the state saving its bacon in 2020? At least in the last few competitive cycles, South Carolina has been arguable The Decisive state. So first it may streamline the nomination process. But there’s another scenario that’s equally possible: South Carolina’s role changes from picking a presidential candidate to winning a large field. And while the amendment would allow more diverse states to weigh in first, it won’t necessarily Give more power to black voters.

Stacked bar chart showing the demographic breakdown of states in the current and proposed order of the presidential primary process.  While the black population in the United States is 14%, Iowa, the leader in the current calendar, accounts for 4%.  Making South Carolina the leadoff in the proposed order would give her a larger share of black voters — 27% — than before in the primary.
Stacked bar chart showing the demographic breakdown of states in the current and proposed order of the presidential primary process.  While the black population in the United States is 14%, Iowa, the leader in the current calendar, accounts for 4%.  Making South Carolina the leadoff in the proposed order would give her a larger share of black voters — 27% — than before in the primary.

This is, in part, because there is a difference between removing overwhelmingly white states from the front of the queue and giving more power to black voters. And just moving a state can’t change the whole process. You need to diversify the order significantly Both of these things have to be true – and it’s proving to be easy to do. Already, two of the affected states, New Hampshire and Georgia, which are second and fourth respectively under Biden’s proposed lineup, will hold their primaries — defiant, though national Democrats are giving both states until June to comply with the party’s goal. New initial-state command. Iowa Democrats, for their part, aren’t thrilled with the news, and are reportedly arguing against the wishes of national Democrats.

In putting forward the proposal, Biden offered an implicit rebuke to Iowa and New Hampshire, two overwhelmingly white states that rejected him in 2020. But the strange thing about Biden’s proposal is that South Carolina — because of its geographic and demographic diversity — already has a lot of power. Generally, Iowa and New Hampshire have narrowed the candidate field. It’s an important function and one that officials in both states are vigorously trying to grasp. (New Hampshire is determined to maintain its first-country primary status, which it says is solidified under state law.) But, over time, South Carolina has served an arguably more worthy function: rejecting or accepting earlier decisions by New England. And made up of overwhelmingly white — and more liberal — Democrats in the Midwest. Since 1992, the winner of the South Carolina Democratic primary has won the nomination – with one exception. In 2004, South Carolina native John Edwards won the state’s primary, but did not receive the presidential endorsement. So, at least in recent years, if a Democratic candidate can’t appeal to South Carolina’s Democratic voters, he or she is unlikely to win the nomination or the presidency.

What does it mean for South Carolina to vote first in the Democratic primary?

“The road to heaven and the White House runs through South Carolina,” said Antjuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist from South Carolina. “I don’t care how red or blue a district is, and I don’t care how good a candidate might be in any other situation: no one can be the Democratic nominee for president without strong support among black voters. ”

South Carolina Democratic primary winners consistently clinched their party’s nomination

Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina End Unelected Democratic Presidential Candidates Who Won Their Party’s Nomination, 1992–2020

year the candidate Iowa New Hampshire South Carolina Got the party nomination?
1992 Bill Clinton 4th 2nd 1st
2000* Al Gore 1st 1st 1st
2004 John Kerry 1st 1st 2nd
2008 Barack Obama 1st 2nd 1st
2016 Hillary Clinton 1st 2nd 1st
2020 Joe Biden 4th 5th 1st

*In 2000, Democrats held a primary vs. a caucus in South Carolina.
Includes uncommitted representative placement rankings.

Source: News Report

So how does putting South Carolina first change things? Positioning the state to win can have a big impact on whether candidates are deemed viable in the first place. Given that the state’s Democratic voters are older and more moderate, it is possible that a certain type The candidate who would benefit most from the switch-up: Another one like Biden.

Will black candidates benefit though? Maybe not, because “there are both supply and demand issues,” says Andrea Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University. “I don’t think South Carolina shifts immediately to privilege candidates of color first — or other types of diversity candidates,” he said, adding that it’s unlikely the order change will help black candidates in the Democratic primary. In 2020.[Kamala] Harris dropped out of the race before we even got to the primary, as he did [Cory] Booker, so there were other factors beyond the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary that excluded them.”

Wellesley College political science professor Jennifer Chudy said it’s also not clear that moving South Carolina to the front of the queue would disenfranchise candidates without significant black support. That’s because there’s evidence that the party establishment favors certain presidential candidates, and for that reason, Chudy said he could envision a scenario in which South Carolina’s primary results are dismissed if they don’t match what the larger party wants. “I see a narrative being created that dismisses the winners And Loses out of that system and does so based on the state’s massive black vote,” he said.

Just saying that going first could lead to mixed results – both for South Carolina And Black voters. South Carolina may get more attention and advertising dollars and its local issues may become national — but that doesn’t automatically translate into a more decisive role.

“Probably, in a best-case scenario, candidates invest a lot of time in South Carolina and black voters there where they would go to corn fairs in Iowa,” Chudy said. “But even if there is some real effort in the ground game, it doesn’t necessarily matter because there are so many primaries that follow almost immediately.” So even if there is a definite result in South Carolina, he said, it’s not clear that it will carry over to the states that follow.

There is an argument, too, for the selection of nominees after A more powerful position is actually a narrower field. “There’s power and leverage that candidates have to pass through in the first place,” Gillespie said. “But a case can also be made for black voters wanting to hold their cards close to their chest all the way to South Carolina to see if certain candidates are viable.” In 2008, for example, Gillespie said that former President Barack Obama’s first-place victory in Iowa was an important signal to South Carolinians that he could also win the non-black vote. “And so you can see an argument, perhaps, for maintaining the status quo, especially when the leading candidates are non-white.”

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But the aspects of Biden’s plan that seem likely to empower black voters actually have less to do with South Carolina and more to do with what happens to Michigan and Georgia because they also have large black populations. And, at least for now, it’s unlikely that Georgia, which has the largest black population among the newly-proposed primary states, plays ball given that the Republican secretary of state is adamant about holding both the Republican and Democratic primaries on the same day. . (State Republican officials contend that holding two separate primaries would put unnecessary strain on county and poll workers.)

So while it’s more clear how the state itself would benefit from going first, it’s less clear that the changes Biden is proposing would give voters there — especially blacks — more power over the process. We cannot say for sure that black the candidate As a result, you will have a better chance of winning the nomination. And even if Biden’s proposed order is used in 2024, the vote could be a complicated shakeup over what happens in 2028 and beyond. This is primarily because the approved calendar in the coming months may not necessarily hold for long. According to Politico, DNC members have privately indicated that the review process for revising the 2028 lineup is already in place.

Ultimately, the impact of Biden’s proposal for black voters depends only on what happens with South Carolina — the real question is whether additional diverse states will be added in the primary round. If not, then Biden is rewarding a subset of black voters who support candidates like him, and it’s not clear how much that reward will be.

I don’t buy that the GOP investigations effectively hurt Biden’s chances in 2024: Silver