By Jarrett Renshaw
ST LOUIS (Reuters) – The Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee gave conditional approval on Friday for Iowa’s revamped 2024 election primary plan that allows the state to collect mail ballots and still hold its “first in the nation” caucus in January, but delays finalizing the results until March .
The committee also warned that it will soon strip New Hampshire of some of its delegates if it fails to comply with the party’s decision to weaken its place in the nominating calendar.
Iowa Democrats will now begin mail ballot registration on Nov. 1 and hold an in-person caucus – along with Republicans – on January 15. The results for the Democratic race will be released on March 5, on Super Tuesday.
The compromise honors Iowa’s traditional role while ceding influence to more diverse states like South Carolina and Michigan.
The move means Iowa will not face penalties, such as losing delegates or Biden not being on the ballot, which could have isolated a state once competitive for Democrats.
The threat against New Hampshire is only likely to deepen the divide between party leaders and the Granite State, which Biden will need to heal in the 2024 race.
Iowa has held the first in the nation caucus for president on the Democratic Party’s calendar since 1972. But President Joe Biden earlier this year replaced Iowa with South Carolina, a state with significantly more Black voters, and one that saved his 2020 presidential campaign.
The Democratic National Committee approved the move in February, giving Black voters a greater say in the nominating process and carving an easier path for Biden’s expected re-election bid.
South Carolina will be followed by New Hampshire and Nevada one week later, and then by primaries in Georgia and Michigan.
The promotion of South Carolina and Georgia reflects a demographic balancing decades in the making for the Democratic Party at the expense of Iowa and New Hampshire, two largely white states that rejected Biden in 2020. It also underscores the growing power of the racially diverse coalition that helped bring Biden to power.
New Hampshire Democrats have argued, even if they wanted to, they cannot unilaterally shift its calendar given Republicans control the state. IOWA LOOKS TO 2028
Iowa’s fight for first is not over, local officials say.
“I have had repeated reassurances from the rules and bylaws committee and it co-chairs that the presidential nominating calendar discussions will once again be opened up for 2028, where I expect what we will compete strongly for significant voice in the selection of our Democratic nominee as we have for years,” said Rita Hart, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party.
(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Heather Timmons and Angus MacSwan)