Three hurdles facing Joe Biden’s initial reform plans.
After a lengthy process by the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee to re-evaluate the schedule for the presidential primaries and conventions, President Biden recently He advocated that the South Carolina primary take the coveted first place instead of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, raising the vote of African American voters.
South Carolina will follow with primaries in New Hampshire and Nevada on the same date, then primaries in Georgia and Michigan. This proposal would remove the Iowa caucuses from the early term entirely.
Why the timing of the presidential primaries matters
The timing and order of the primaries is important because presidential nominations are different from other American elections. These events take place within the party over the course of several months, usually from February to June in a presidential election year. Within the guidelines for national parties, states can implement their own rules, such as the type (primary or caucus) and date of the contest.
Conducting an early contest is seen as advantageous for several reasons, as candidate and media attention and the corresponding economic benefits are directed to these early states. Early states also tend to be more influential in the nomination process because their results influence candidates’ fortunes, polling numbers, ability to raise funds, and decisions to drop out of the race.
In recent years, the two national parties have allowed four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to vote early, before allowing other states to hold their contests. Iowa long held its first caucus and New Hampshire its first primary. There have been calls for a long time To adjust the first part of the calendar, it usually focuses on criticism of the lack of diversity in Iowa and New Hampshire voters. South Carolina and Nevada were added to the early lineup prior to the 2008 nomination to diversify the early contests.
These demands are exacerbated in 2020 by two factors. First, There were problems With vote counting and reporting at the Iowa caucuses. Secondly, President Biden revived his campaignAnd the after underperforming in Iowa and New Hampshire, with a decisive win in South Carolina, demonstrating his appeal to a diverse constituency.
Obstacles to Biden’s initial proposals
With the support of President Biden, this proposal has already been approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. If the full Democratic National Committee approves this plan in February, we see at least three clear and meaningful hurdles.
First, the presidential primaries are a series of successive elections held and run by the states. Just because the nationalist party makes a plan, it does not guarantee that the state governments will follow or acquiesce. At various times, parties have offered bonus delegates to states wishing to hold contests later in the nomination season, tied the allowable delegate allocation rule to the timing of the contest, and penalized states that broke the rules by reducing the number of state delegates. He has it in the National Conference. In 2008, Florida and Michigan were scheduled to be earlier than the contests allowed and The DNC responded by stripping these states of their delegatesonly to return part of their delegations as the race between Obama and Clinton intensified.
These strategies were largely ineffective. States have often come to the conclusion that the benefits derived from early primaries outweigh the penalty imposed by the national party. This may be especially true for countries with a small number of delegates. For example, New Hampshire’s significant influence came from its position in the calendar, not from the size of its relatively small mandate. New Hampshire has already indicated that she does not intend to abide by the new Democratic calendar and that she will follow her state law, which forces her to hold the first primary.
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The second obvious hurdle is that Republicans have indicated they intend to keep their current system in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Most states currently hold their Republican and Democratic contests on the same day. In 2016, 11 states and the District of Columbia held their caucuses on different days. This proposal will increase that number in these early key states.
It is more cost effective for states to have a single primary day – rather than separate contests for Democrats and Republicans. In fact, Costs and avoiding duplication is one reason Why so many states choose to hold their contests later in the year, aligning their presidential primaries with primaries for other state and federal offices. State legislatures, especially Republican-controlled ones, may not feel the need to schedule and incur additional election costs to adhere to Democrats’ directives.
The final hurdle is the potential political tension between the potential candidates and the party’s goals. If President Biden runs for re-election in 2024, much of this will be moot for the Democrats. But in an open race, the most effective way to ensure states adhere to the desired National Party calendar is by finding a way to prevent candidates from campaigning in states that break the rules and schedule early contests. A candidate like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg could have an advantage by campaigning in states that broke the rules early on, like Iowa and New Hampshire, to gain traction and media attention, rather than focus his resources on South Carolina, where a candidate like the vice-president is expected to perform. Kamala Harris is doing well.
President Biden also recommended that the calendar be reassessed every four years. Thus, the calendar is likely to change frequently, making it challenging for voters and candidates, especially since the incumbent president has enormous influence over the nomination rules, as shown by President Biden’s preferences and proposal.