The US state of New Hampshire announced on Wednesday that its nominating contest for the presidential election would take place on January 23 — defying Democratic President Joe Biden’s preferred voting order.
The announcement will have little bearing on the race for the White House, as Biden had already ruled himself out in the Granite State in anticipation of the move, and does not have any serious threat to his position as the presumptive Democratic nominee.
The eyes of the world have traditionally been focused every four years on rural, overwhelmingly white Iowa and tiny New Hampshire as the kickoff states for the months-long process of selecting presidential candidates.
But the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last year approved Biden’s proposal to make South Carolina the party’s first “primary” of 2024, arguing that bumping up a more diverse state would give Black voters a greater say and make the early stages of the race more representative.
Biden’s victory in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in South Carolina helped revive his flagging candidacy and propelled the former vice president to the nomination and eventually the White House.
Democratic leaders in New Hampshire confirmed on Wednesday that they were rejecting the changes, arguing in a news conference that January 23 “complies with our state statute, requiring our presidential primary to be at least seven days before any similar event.”
Although Iowa goes first in picking nominees for the presidential election, the contest there is known as a “caucuses” and operates under different rules — allowing New Hampshire to call itself the “first in the nation” primary.
Anticipating that New Hampshire would hold an unsanctioned Democratic contest, Biden had already made clear in October that his name would not be on the ballot, citing his obligation to adhere to DNC rules.
The state’s delegates will now go to congressman Dean Phillips or self-help author Marianne Williamson, both of whom filed for the primary. Neither is within 60 points of Biden in the RealClearPolitics average of major polls.
South Carolina’s Democratic primary is slated for February 3.
Former president Donald Trump and the other Republicans seeking to challenge Biden will now compete in the Iowa caucuses on January 15 before the New Hampshire primary and the Nevada caucuses on February 8.
South Carolina’s Republican contest is set for February 24.