It’s been a long time coming, but now it’s here: Iowa’s longtime dominance at the front of the Democratic presidential nominating process looks to be over.
As CNN wrote Wednesday of the latest move by the Democratic National Committee:
“The new plan jettisons the current set of early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and implements a process that would prioritize diverse battleground states that choose to hold primaries, not caucuses. Under the new structure, states will apply to hold early nominating contests and the rules committee will select up to five that will be allowed to go before Super Tuesday, the first Tuesday in March.”
Which, of course, throws the early stages of the party’s nomination fight wide open. But to be clear, the DNC’s move impacts Iowa the most – for three reasons.
1) Iowa Democrats botched the 2020 caucuses. As you might remember, the last caucus for Democrats was an utter disaster, with no winner being declared for days because of the problems with the reporting of caucus results.
2) Iowa holds a caucus, not a primary. Members of the DNC who voted on the calendar change made clear that they didn’t want a caucus at the start of the process. “Let’s be perfectly clear,” said DNC member Elaine Kamarck. “In my mind, this means no traditional caucus states in the early lineup, and I want to say that very clearly.”
3) Iowa isn’t diverse. One of the Democrats’ main priorities for choosing which states will go first is the diversity of the electorate. Iowa doesn’t have that. More than 90% of its residents are White. (Sidebar: New Hampshire, which will undoubtedly push to keep its status as the first-in-the-nation primary, has an even larger percentage of White residents than Iowa.)
There is, of course, always a chance that Iowa retains its prominence at the front of the Democratic nominating calendar. (The DNC will make a decision about the shape of the process in July.)
But, man, it does not look good. (In a feat of understatement, Iowa DNC committeeman Scott Brennan acknowledged that the decision represented a “challenge” for his state.)
The Point: Iowa has voted first on the Democratic side of presidential nomination fights since 1972. That streak looks very likely to be over now.