Joe Biden has been advocating for bumping South Carolina to the front of the Democratic primary schedule ever since Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) consequential endorsement helped secure his victory in the Democratic Primary in 2020.
Clyburn and Biden argue that a state as white as New Hampshire shouldn’t get so much power in the primaries and that putting South Carolina first would empower minority voters in influencing the Democratic Party’s nominee.
But New Hampshire wasn’t about to take this insult sitting down and is refusing to give up its long-held first-in-the-nation primary just because Biden has a political debt to pay off.
The Democratic National Committee bumped up the South Carolina primary to Feb. 3, but David Scanlan, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State, revealed during a press conference on Wednesday at the State House that the 2024 primary in the state is still scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 23 — ahead of the South Carolina primary.
Scanlan noted that Jan. 23 “complies with our state statute, requiring our presidential primary to be at least seven days before any similar event, and it preserves the position of the traditional Iowa caucus.”
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Prior to his announcement, Scanlan told NBC News that he delayed setting the date until he was “comfortable that New Hampshire will hold the first in the nation presidential primary.” NBC News noted that “Iowa Democrats, who were also stripped of their early slot in the DNC’s approved 2024 calendar, shifted their traditional in-person caucuses to a mail-in system this year — which Scanlan had said risked triggering New Hampshire’s law requiring him to move ahead of another state primary. But in early October, Iowa Democrats announced they will release their results on March 5, which is Super Tuesday.”
As a result of the state’s refusal to move its primary, New Hampshire may lose delegates at the national convention, and Joe Biden won’t appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot.
Democrats have made no effort to hide the fact that racial factors are behind the desire to make South Carolina first. DNC Chair Jaime Harrison said earlier this year that positioning South Carolina first “puts Black voters at the front of the process.”
During a July interview on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki,” Harrison argued that “South Carolina has been the best indicator” of determining the eventual nominee, highlighting its significance as the first state primary Biden won after placing 5th in New Hampshire and a similarly poor showing in the Iowa caucuses. Biden had been in the lead in the polls until those defeats but trailed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) until Clyburn’s endorsement propelled him to victory and rescued Biden’s campaign.
New Hampshire is technically a purple state, but it has voted Democrat since 2000. Gov. Chris Sununu previously suggested that Biden is losing support in the state because he insulted New Hampshire voters for trying to change the primary schedule. As a result, New Hampshire could flip red in 2024.
I’m not so confident about that. Still, it would be nice. New Hampshire may only have four Electoral College votes, and if the 2024 election is as close as it is expected to be, those four votes could make a difference.