PHILADELPHIA - The Democratic National Committee (DNC) overwhelmingly voted on Saturday to dramatically alter the top of its presidential nominating calendar for the 2024 election cycle, bumping Iowa and New Hampshire from their longtime leadoff positions.

The push by the DNC — to upend its primary calendar to give more representation at the top of the schedule to Black and Hispanic voters in a party that’s become increasingly diverse in recent decades — had been vigorously fought by New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House.

Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley, on the eve of the vote, called the move by the DNC "mind-boggling" and a "self-inflicted wound" that would hurt the chances of Democratic candidates in 2024 in the key northeastern general election battleground state.

The vote by the DNC’s nearly 500 voting members gathered for the party's winter meeting was the final approval needed President Biden's proposal to move South Carolina to the lead position in the Democrats’ primary calendar. Under Biden's plan, South Carolina would hold its primary on Feb. 3, 2024, with New Hampshire and Nevada holding primaries three days later, followed by Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan two weeks later.


President Biden DNC speech Philadelphia

President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

That’s a dramatic switch from the current calendar, which has seen the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary lead off the process for five decades. But many Democrats for years have knocked both states as unrepresentative of the party as a whole, for being largely White with few major urban areas. Nevada and South Carolina, which in recent cycles have voted third and fourth in the calendar, are much more diverse than either Iowa or New Hampshire.

The president and supporters of the plan argue that it would empower minority voter whom Democrats have long relied on but have at times taken for granted.

"This committee put together a calendar proposal that reflects our values and will strengthen our party. This calendar does what is long overdue. It expands the number of voices in the early window. And it elevates diverse communities that are at core of the Democratic Party," DNC chair Jaime Harrison said.

And praising the new calendar, Harrison stressed that "the Democratic Party looks like America, and so does this proposal."

But a New Hampshire DNC committee member warned that the changes could hurt the party, and the president, as Republicans in the state have been "weaponizing" the proposed calander to go after Democratic politicians. 

"We are frustrated because as many times as we say it, no one seems to listen when we say that this will only hurt President Biden in our purple battleground state," said Joanne Dowdell, a New Hampshire committee member on the DNC's Rules and Bylaws panel.


The DNC's Rules and Bylaws committee gave initial approval to the calendar change in an early December vote where New Hampshire and Iowa were the only two "no" votes.

Iowa, an increasingly red state that holds caucuses instead of a primary, has been knocked from the DNC’s early February window, before the rest of the states hold presidential nominating contests in the 2024 calendar.

"It's vital that small rural states like Iowa should not lose our voice in the presidential nominating process," Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart said. 

And she warned that "Democrats cannot forget about entire groups of voters in the heart of the Midwest without doing significant damage to the party."

And the DNC is insisting that New Hampshire, in order to keep its early voting slot in the new calendar, needs to scrap a decades-old state law that protects its first-in-the-nation primary status and must expand legislation to expand access to early voting. But with Republicans in control of New Hampshire’s governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature, state Democrats argue that’s a non-starter.

New Hampshire presidential primary sign

The sign outside of the New Hampshire state capitol building in Concord, N.H., that honors the state's cherished century hold tradition of holding the first presidential primary in the race for the White House. (Fox News)

The Rules and Bylaws committee last week extended until June the deadline for New Hampshire and Georgia - which also has a GOP controlled governor's office and state legislature - to come into compliance with the DNC's new calendar. 

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, and state Republicans, have repeatedly slammed Biden and the DNC. Sununu has reiterated that "we’re going first no matter what."


Buckley warned that "Republicans have already begun to attack Democrats over this proposed calendar, and we expect them to use it as a wedge for New Hampshire’s fiercely independent electorate going into 2024."

He pointed to former President Donald Trump, who slammed the Democrats and Biden over the primary in a speech last weekend as he campaigned in New Hampshire. Those arguments could be persuasive with Granite State independents, who make up 40% of the electorate in the state.

Donald Trump in New Hampshire

Former President Donald Trump gives the headline address at the New Hampshire GOP annual meeting, in Salem, New Hampshire on Jan. 28, 2023. Trump is joined by outgoing NHGOP chair Steve Stepanek (right), who is joining Trump's campaign as a senior adviser in New Hampshire (Fox News)

With it virtually impossible that New Hampshire will come into compliance, it's nearly certain that an unsanctioned, rogue Democratic primary in the Granite State would be held on the same day as Republicans, who are not changing their longstanding order of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The DNC likely would penalize New Hampshire and any candidates that take part in the Granite State’s Democratic presidential primary for violating the party’s new calendar. 

The president came in a distant fourth in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary in 2020, before rebounding to a second-place finish in Nevada. Biden then won South Carolina — where Black voters play an outsized role in Democratic Party primaries — in a landslide, boosting him towards his party’s nomination and eventually the White House. Biden’s push to move South Carolina to the top of the 2024 calendar is another signal he intends to run for re-election next year. 

But Granite State Democrats warn that New Hampshire will still go first, and that an unsanctioned primary where Biden doesn’t take part could invite trouble for the president.


"President Biden will not file for election in the New Hampshire primary, which will still go first," Buckley said. And he predicted that "this will set him up, we believe, for an embarrassing situation where the first primary in the country will be won by someone other than the president. This will only fuel chatter of about Democrats divisions."

New Hampshire's forceful opposition to the president's plan to order the calander hasn't sat well with many DNC members.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison

Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison speaks at the DNC's winter meeting, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Feb. 4, 2023 (Fox News )

At last week's Rules and Bylaws meeting, some members of the panel said they were shocked by the pushback by New Hampshire Democrats, which they called "disturbing" and "irresponsible."


On the eve of the full DNC vote on the calendar, Rules and Bylaws member Mo Elleithee told Fox News it was "frustrating to me" to "watch the New Hampshire Democratic Party attacking the DNC" instead of trying to come into compliance.

"New Hampshire has a very longstanding and special role in this process. The DNC wants to keep them in that special role. We’re hopeful that they see that because going to war with the DNC isn’t going to help them keep it," Elleithee emphasized.

But Dowdell, New Hampshire's representative on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, pushed back.

"When some members say they are frustrated or we are attacking them by standing up for New Hampshire- it is frustrating. It’s frustrating because the DNC is set to punish us despite the fact we don’t have the ability to unilaterally change state law.," Dowdell emphasized.