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Tipsheet

What Were Democrats Thinking With Their Latest Decision on 2024?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Back in December, Townhall reported on the Democratic National Committee's initial vote to upend its presidential primary schedule ahead of 2024, flipping the script on the normal order of states that's been in place for some five decades. Well, the DNC voted to formally approve the new schedule this week — but there's still an uncertain and rocky road ahead for Democrats due to state laws and other yet-to-be-fully-determined problems. 

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Hardest hit? Iowa, where their 2020 caucuses were something of an unmitigated disaster and the normal momentum the winning candidate can expect to ride into New Hampshire and beyond was nonexistent. In the wake of that mess, Iowa has been booted from its first-in-the-nation position and replaced with South Carolina. 

After remaining mum on the issue of the 2024 calendar until the last minute, the DNC's new presidential primary plan was backed by President Joe Biden, making its passage something of a foregone conclusion after the initial Rules and Bylaws group passed the recommendation. 

With its new first-in-the-nation status, South Carolina is supposed to hold its Democrat primary on February 3, 2024 — with New Hampshire and Nevada's primaries coming three days later on February 6, 2024. Also making moves to earlier dates are Michigan and Georgia, part of what the DNC has sold as a move to let a more diverse group of Americans make their voices heard earlier on in the presidential election cycle and see their votes count more toward choosing the eventual nominee. 

Of course, the Democrats' 2024 presidential primary won't be much of a showdown if Biden decides to run for reelection and no fellow Democrats decide to challenge the president's renomination. Unless the DNC knows more about Biden's 2024 plans than he's told the American people, it's likely the schedule change is to have a trial run take place during a less-consequential presidential cycle for Democrats. 

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Democrats need to take advantage of that opportunity in a year they expect the stakes to be lower in the nominating process because even after being passed by the DNC, their new calendar isn't a done deal. Far from it, in fact. 

Like many other centralized, top-down policies preferred by Democrats, their new calendar apparently failed to consider that there are state laws and other issues at play that, at present, mean their new primary schedule can't be followed. 

New Hampshire's primary, for example, is required by state law to "be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election." The Republicans who control the Granite State's government aren't inclined to change the primary date to accommodate Democrats because the Republican primary schedule for 2024 has not changed. 

If New Hampshire's law isn't changed and the state Democrats don't figure out a creative solution to get around holding a primary, they're technically required to hold their primary at least one week before South Carolina's — undoing the DNC's plan to have the Palmetto State go first. 

There's a similar stalemate between state party officials playing out in Georgia, since the DNC intends to move the Peach State's Democrat presidential primary earlier in the cycle. But in Georgia, Republican leaders have said they won't act to change the normal March primary date if doing so would hurt either party with their national organizations. Since the RNC already agreed to keep its usual schedule in place, moving the primary would mean the state GOP could be penalized for jumping out of order. Republicans in Georgia, unsurprisingly, aren't feeling like changing their schedule or moving to two separate primary dates just because the DNC voted to move things up. 

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Things haven't fully unfolded yet for Iowa, but they too have a state law requiring their primary be held first. By holding their caucuses first, they're able to technically follow the state requirement (being first in the country), and it allows New Hampshire to maintain their statutory requirement for holding the first primary (since Iowa uses the caucus process).

Clearly, Democrats have fumbled their way into an unforced error that offers another example of Democrats in disarray. Not only have they forced state parties to spend time and resources trying to adhere to the new primary schedule, but they've chosen to undo decades of presidential political history — and there's already talk they may try to bring even more changes to the order and schedule for the 2028 election cycle. 

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel noted in a statement over the weekend that the "RNC unanimously passed its rules over a year ago and solidified the traditional nominating process the American people know and understand." McDaniel contrasted the GOP's smooth-sailing decision for its 2024 calendar with the DNC's, saying Democrats "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."

No, Iowa Democrats aren't happy. But neither are Democrats in some of the states who are being moved earlier on the primary calendar. There's something poetic about Democrats trying to virtue signal by tossing their 2024 schedule in a salad spinner and the result being state parties having to either break the law to comply or end up getting punished by the DNC for keeping their usual order. What a mess. 

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