Biden May Not Appear on Ballot in First Two Primary States

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new hampshire primary, iowa caucus, joe biden, rfk jr. democratic primary

new hampshire primary, iowa caucus, joe biden, rfk jr. democratic primary

New Hampshire and Iowa typically start the Democratic Primary process, but a Biden plan to move South Carolina ahead in the calendar further complicates an already complex primary for an incumbent president.

US President Joe Biden may lose his first two primary challenges of 2024 by default because he may not even be on the ballot. If that happens, the two states could represent a battleground for his two high-profile challengers, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson.

The issue stems from Biden’s attempts to move South Carolina earlier in the primary calendar and New Hampshire and Iowa Democrats’ response to that move. Last year, Biden pushed for an overhaul of the primary system, selecting South Carolina to be the first state to vote. South Carolina was Biden’s first primary win in 2020 and was largely credited for turning around his campaign that year.

Biden pointed to South Carolina’s diversity as one reason why it should launch the Democratic primary. Iowa and New Hampshire, which traditionally launch the primary, are 86% and 82% white, respectively, while South Carolina is 62% white.

But the move angered New Hampshire Democrats who say they were locked out of the process to pick the first state. They also note their state law mandates New Hampshire be the first state to vote in primaries.

Iowa Democrats have not been as vocal publicly, but they have moved their primary election up to match the Republican party in that state and have also included a mail-in portion that would make it the first state to vote. However, in response, New Hampshire Democrats have floated the idea of voting even earlier to beat Iowa.

Meanwhile, the Biden team has been hinting the president may not appear on the ballot in those states if they attempt to leapfrog South Carolina and have warned that the state may strip them of their national delegates, essentially removing Democrats in those states from the party’s nomination selection process.

A discarded voting sticker lies on the ground at a satellite election office at Overbrook High School on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Philadelphia. The city of Philadelphia has opened several satellite election offices and more are slated to open in the coming weeks where voters can drop off their mail in ballots before Election Day.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.02.2023

Over Half of Democrats Don’t Want Biden to Seek Second Term in 2024 – Poll

Some Democrats have floated a write-in campaign for the president in those states, but it is unclear if the Biden campaign would support those efforts.

Combined with the Biden team’s resistance to holding primary debates, granted something an incumbent president has never done, the move may create the perception that Biden is ducking his primary opponents. Roughly half of Democrats have said in recent polls that they do not want Biden to be the party’s nominee and eight in 10 Democrats indicated they would like to see a primary debate.

Additionally, Biden has performed poorly in New Hampshire and Iowa in the past. In the 2020 primary, he placed fifth in New Hampshire and fourth in Iowa and his campaign appeared to be on life support until his turnaround in South Carolina. In 2008, he failed to gain one percent of the vote in either state, leading to his quick exit in the primary that year. Even if Biden does appear on the ballot in those states, a stronger-than-expected showing by Kennedy or Williamson could give them a legitimacy boost and make them a real threat later in the primary.

New Hampshire in particular could be an opportunity for Kennedy to surprise because Independents participate heavily in the state’s primaries.

Because of complex party rules and state laws, the Democratic primary calendar has not been officially set. The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will discuss the party’s primary plan on Friday.





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