South Carolina is slated to be #1 — that is, on the president’s nomination calendar.
National Democrats voted on Friday, December 2 to shake up the calendar and replace Iowa with South Carolina as the state kicking off the 2024 primary season. The Palmetto State would hold its primary on February 3, with New Hampshire and Nevada holding their contests three days later. Georgia would hold its elementary school the following week; Michigan would go the week after that.
The calendar change was endorsed by President Joe Biden, who says the change is needed to better represent the diverse constituents in the party.
“Our early states must reflect the overall diversity of our party and our nation — economically, geographically, demographically,” Biden said in a letter to the rulemaking arm of the Democratic National Committee this week. “This means more distinct states earlier in the process and more diversity in the overall mix of early states.”
The President said there should be greater representation from urban, suburban and rural regions and union budgets. “We need to involve voters from many backgrounds, not to ratify the election of the first states, but as full stakeholders in decision-making,” he said.
The changes were approved by DNC’s rulemaking committee this week, but have yet to be approved by DNC as a whole – likely early next year.
But what, if anything, do these changes to the California nomination contest calendar mean?
Is California Ready for Prime Time?
In 2017, California lawmakers said the state was ready for prime time.
Then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation moving the statewide presidential primary to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March — meaning the 2020 presidential primary would be held on Super Tuesday, an election day when most states hold primaries.
“Candidates will not be able to ignore the largest and most diverse state in the nation as they strive for the highest office in our country,” Alex Padilla, now a US Senator and then Secretary of State for California, said at the time.
When California brought forward its presidential primary to early February in 2008, the state had its highest primary turnout since 1980, according to Padilla’s office.
So far, the 2024 presidential election in California is scheduled for March, according to the Secretary of State. But overall, the Golden State’s schedule for these elections has not been flat.
“For better or for worse, we haven’t had much luck doing our main thing,” said Dan Schnur, a former campaign adviser who teaches political messaging at UC Berkeley and USC. “It was early, it was late; the legislature has repeatedly postponed it back and forth. But it never seemed to give the state a very important role.”
The presidential primaries were held in June 2016 and 2012, but voters cast their ballots in February 2008. The presidential primaries were held in March 2004, 2000 and 1996; In 1992 it was in June.
Lori Cox Han, political science professor and director of the Presidential Studies Program at Chapman University, said California will always play an important role because it has the largest number of delegates. But a change in the calendar, particularly to expand who exactly has a say early in the process, could mean a more diverse list of candidates will face California voters.
“A reshuffle of the Democratic calendar (and assuming Republicans will do something similar) will mean states that are more demographically diverse will play the winning role in the early contests, which could allow for a more diverse field of candidates still.” be competitive when California voters have their say,” Han said. “I think that’s a good thing for all voters in California.”
While it may not affect the California system, the president’s primary switcheroo could potentially be beneficial to a particular Californian, suggested Paul Mitchell, vice president of political data.
If Vice President Kamala Harris does well in South Carolina — should Biden decline a re-election bid and she runs for the White House — bringing the Palmetto state to the top of the nomination calendar could help her secure the nomination, he said.
“On the 2020 calendar, it might be difficult to survive through a series of difficult states and hold out long enough to celebrate the comeback win in South Carolina like Biden did,” Mitchell said. “It would be much better for them to get a big win out of goal.”
Biden got his big boost in 2020 when Jim Clyburn, the only Democratic congressman from South Carolina and the whip of the majority of the House of Representatives, backed him just before his state’s main contest. Biden had lost in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada but won South Carolina — and ultimately the White House.
The Michigan Lesson
While Michigan would join early states under Biden’s proposal, there has been some backlash from Democrats — and that opposition could herald the opposition California might receive if it tried to move its presidential primary even earlier.
For example, David McDonald, a longtime DNC member, speculated that promoting larger states like Michigan early in elementary school “could effectively[create]a bias against certain types of candidates,” he told Politico.
And in a recent memo sent to DNC members, Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party leader Ken Martin suggested candidates skip other early states, only to focus on Michigan because of the large number of delegates . (Notably, Minnesota has also attempted to be an early Midwestern state to replace Iowa on the nominating contest calendar.)
The thought is that states with larger media markets could be more beneficial to candidates with heftier war chests and ultimately “place even more emphasis on early fundraising and less emphasis on traditional voter outreach,” added Schnur.
“Even if California wanted to be one of the first states, it’s hard to imagine how either party would allow that,” he said. “If Michigan got that (pushback), what would they say about us?”
Four of the five states (excluding South Carolina) starting the presidential primary are considered battleground states — giving the Democratic candidate an early opportunity to lay the groundwork for the general election.
DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said the new list of states with early voting must show they are working towards moving their primaries to those dates by early next year or they risk losing their spot. Some state legislatures set primary appointments, while others have their secretaries of state or directors of their state parties do so.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/12/03/democrats-move-to-change-presidential-primary-calendar-but-what-does-that-mean-for-california/ Democrats Want to Change the President’s Primary Calendar, But What Does It Mean for California? – Orange County Registry