It all seemed so simple.
As woke Democrats had come to believe, the current primary process is profoundly iniquitous. Since time immemorial — or 1920, which practically qualifies as antediluvian in the TikTok era — the state of New Hampshire has hosted the first presidential primary in the nation. Meanwhile, Iowa holds the first caucus; as NPR noted, because of the state’s convoluted method of picking candidates, the Democratic National Committee made the caucus the first contest in the nation in 1972, which is considered the first year of the modern primary selection process.
Since then, these two dates have remained stuck in the political firmament: Iowa first, then New Hampshire as the first primary. In fact, New Hampshire law mandates that its primary occur seven days before any other state’s.
The problem, at least as Democrats framed it, was that both Iowa and New Hampshire are too white to be representative of America. Thus, last December, the Democratic Party’s rules and bylaws commission handed the first primary to South Carolina, a state where the Democrat-voting base is heavily black.
There was also another reason, as The New York Times pointed out in a Wednesday article aptly titled “The D.N.C. Has a Primary Problem”: “Joe Biden performed terribly in each of those contests [Iowa and New Hampshire] in 2020, hitting his stride only in larger states with fewer white voters.”
Thus decreed the Biden administration: South Carolina was going first. What could go wrong, particularly with no serious challengers throwing their hats in the ring to challenge the 81-year-old president?
Pretty much everything, as the Times pointed out. Not only has Biden alienated voters in New Hampshire and Iowa — both technically swing states, the former more than the latter — both still plan to hold their candidate-picking affairs before South Carolina. And if Joe Biden refuses to put his name on the ballot there, there’s a certain vaccine skeptic with a family name that holds significant clout that’s polling in double-digits nationally and would love to notch victories in the first two races in the nation.
As the Times noted, “New Hampshire, the state that prides itself on its Live Free or Die motto, has declared that it will vote first anyway, setting up a clash with the D.N.C. that could widen to publicly embarrass Biden — who, assuming he coordinates with the D.N.C. on its new calendar, would not be on the New Hampshire ballot in this scenario — handing the incumbent president a shocking statewide defeat.
“Biden has the entire party establishment on his side. The D.N.C. has formally endorsed him, which means that the organization, in addition to rubber-stamping a primary calendar that is far more favorable to him, will not sponsor any debates … At the same time, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a son of the slain senator and attorney general and a nephew of the slain president, has polled at 20 percent nationally among Democratic voters and has begun a campaign blitz in New Hampshire, where voters and politicians alike are aggrieved over the D.N.C.’s revision of the primary calendar, with the secretary of state, David Scanlan, a Republican, calling the first-in-the-nation status a defining part of the state’s ‘culture.’”
The Times’ Ross Barkan noted that “Iowa’s reaction has been more muted because there are so few Democrats of note left in the state after successive Republican electoral waves. Still, Iowa Democrats may sync their caucuses with the Republicans anyway, defying the D.N.C.”
Thus, Biden is left with two options: defeat or defeat. He concedes that putting South Carolina first is a pipe dream, at least for 2024, or he gives two potential victories to RFK Jr. — a competent enough guy on the campaign trail when he’s not talking about how 5G and WiFi are carcinogenic radioactive time bombs or hawking debunked studies linking vaccines to autism.