New Hampshire will hold its 2024 presidential primary on Jan. 23, contradicting a schedule set by the Democratic National Committee and maintaining its historic status.
The Granite State has historically held the first presidential primary in the country during an election year. Citing concerns about representation, the DNC and President Joe Biden pushed to have the traditional schedule rearranged so that South Carolina would get the first spot.
“In today’s society, it seems that we’re quick to eliminate traditions and ignore them,” said New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan at a press conference on Nov. 15. “But I’d like to think that 100 years from now, the people of this country will really be glad that we kept this one.”
He added that the Jan. 23 date complies with state law, which requires the primary to be held seven days before any “similar event,” and also “preserves the position of the traditional Iowa caucus.”
“Using racial diversity as a cudgel and an attempt to rearrange the presidential nominating calendar is an ugly precedent,” said Scanlan. “At what point does the state become too old or too wealthy or too educated, or too religious to hold on early primary? The truth is, there is no individual state that truly reflects the makeup of America and no state is more American than any other state.”
The DNC formally approved South Carolina to lead off its party’s presidential primary on Feb. 3, 2024. Nevada and New Hampshire would take the second primary date – Feb. 6 – followed by Georgia and Michigan.
“This calendar reflects the best of who we are as a nation and it sends a powerful message,” said Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, per the Los Angeles Times. “The Democratic Party looks like America, and so does this proposal.”
New Hampshire Democrats repeatedly warned the party’s national leadership against altering the primary schedule. A coalition of state Democrats co-signed a letter to Biden in January warning that Republicans could out-organize them and “jeopardize four critical electoral votes.”
“We believe it’s possible to keep New Hampshire at the beginning of the primary calendar and to elevate the influence of Black and Latino voters in this process,” the group wrote. “The two things do not have to be mutually exclusive. When you balance what you lose to what you gain, there is no comparison.”
“While we share your desire to elevate more diverse voices in the process, we believe that the proposed schedule could wreak havoc on Democrats up and down the ticket in New Hampshire,” they added.
“What happened with the DNC was a total betrayal by Joe Biden,” said New Hampshire Congressman Chris Pappas in an interview in late February. “The fact is New Hampshire does not choose for the rest of the nation. New Hampshire helps set the tone and helps set the parameters of the conversation in a way that makes for better nominees and better presidents.”
The Biden campaign never filed the paperwork to appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot. Democrats in the state have denounced the “misguided DNC rules” and are now urging voters to write in the incumbent president on the ballot.
In 2020, Biden took fifth place in the New Hampshire primary and won South Carolina by 26 points.
The president wrote in a December letter to the DNC that it was imperative to “ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominees much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window.”
“Our early states must reflect the overall diversity of our party and our nation – economically, geographically, and demographically,” Biden wrote. “This means more diverse states earlier in the process and more diversity in the overall mix of early states.”