DemDaily: New Hampshire First ?

November 17, 2023

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlon (R) on Wednesday announced that The Granite State would hold its 2024 presidential primary on January 23, 2024 -- ensuring its historic place as the first-in-the-nation primary for both major parties.

The decision is at odds with the Democratic National Committee's revamped Democratic presidential primary schedule -- adopted at the February, 2023 Winter DNC meeting in Philadelphia -- which had moved New Hampshire to the second place slot after South Carolina.

Presidential primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private, in-person events that are run directly by the political parties themselves. All states run primaries with the exception of Iowa, Wyoming and three territories that hold some form of caucus.

Under DNC rules, no state can hold a presidential primary or caucus before the first Tuesday in March. Those previously exempted were Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which were granted "waivers" and allowed to hold their contests in early primaries as representative states of each region of the country.

Under the new schedule, which gives preference to battleground states, electoral diversity and union representation, that order was reshuffled to put South Carolina first, on February 3, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on February 6, Georgia on February 13 and then Michigan on February 27.

Any state party defying the sanctioned new order risks penalties from the DNC, such as limiting the state's number of delegates to the national convention.

While South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan met party requirements to join the new early lineup, Georgia, Iowa and New Hampshire, which are under state Republican control, faced legal obstacles to moving their primary dates.

In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State and chief election official Brad Raffensperger balked at changing the state's Democratic presidential primary in 2024, mandating it be held the same day as the GOP -- March 14.

Under the DNC's new order, Iowa was kicked to March 5, upending its coveted "first in the nation" caucus status, required by state law and held for five decades.

Iowa Democrats, however, managed to appease both state law and the DNC with a proposal to hold their in-person state caucus on January 15 (the same day as the Republican caucus) strictly to conduct party business, but vote for president separately by mail. Ballots would be sent out January 12, but results would not be released until March 5, known as "Super Tuesday," when thirteen other states hold their Democratic primary.

Similar to Iowa's state law stipulating it holds the first caucus, New Hampshire's state constitution mandates that it hold the country's first primary -- at least one week before other states’ primaries.

New Hampshire Republican leaders made it clear from the outset that the law, implemented for more than 100 years, was not going to change. In announcing the date, Scanlon decried the DNC's reprioritized nominating order, saying, “Using racial diversity as a cudgel in an attempt to rearrange the presidential nominating calendar is an ugly precedent.” New Hampshire in more than 90% white.

The decision put New Hampshire Democrats, who also opposed the change in the calendar, out of compliance with DNC rules -- leaving open the question of whether they may face penalties from the party.

The unsanctioned state primary also means that presumptive Democratic nominee President Joe Biden will not appear on the ballot and will not campaign in the state. In a letter to state Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, Biden Campaign Manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez reportedly wrote that, while the “president wishes to participate” in the primary, he is “obligated” to follow the DNC calendar.

As an alternative, an organized write-in effort on behalf of the President is already underway by Biden supporters in the state.

Regardless, New Hampshire's primary date finalizes the 2024 presidential nominating calendar -- which now kicks off in just two months.

DemList will keep you informed.

Related: DemDaily: Your Guide to The Democratic National Committee 10/3/23

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Kimberly Scott

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Resources: AP, Politico, WMUR

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