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Why Only One Party's Caucuses Were Discussed in Iowa

Created: 15 January, 2024
Updated: 16 January, 2024
2 min read

Photo Credit: Allison Saeng on Unsplash


Many voters watching the results from the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday may have noticed that the media only talked about votes on the Republican side. Only GOP results were posted on news websites and on social media.

What about the Democratic Party? Isn't Iowa always first-in-the-nation for both parties?

Not in 2024.

The Democratic National Committee changed the early state schedule in February 2023 to make South Carolina the first-in-the-nation contest, something President Joe Biden urged the party to do.

The change ended a streak for the Iowa caucuses that went back to 1972. The party also intended for New Hampshire to lose its status as the first-in-the-nation primary as well, but its rules conflicted with state law.

It is enshrined in the New Hampshire Constitution that the state must hold the first presidential primary elections. The Democratic presidential primary is still scheduled a week before South Carolina.

New Hampshire Democrats had no say in the matter, but the DNC sent a message to voters that the results of the primary wouldn't matter. They would not determine delegate selection -- all because the party didn't get its way.

There is no law in Iowa that requires the Republican and Democratic presidential caucuses to be first. But many Iowa Democrats viewed the schedule change as a slight to Midwestern voters.

The Iowa Democratic Party decided on a new process for the 2024 cycle. In person caucuses were still held on January 15, but the caucuses dealt more with party business.

The presidential preference election is being conducted by mail-in presidential preference cards. The party started to send out these cards on January 12 and they can be requested up to February 19.

The cards must be postmarked by March 5, Super Tuesday, when the party will start to announce the results. The options listed on the cards are Biden, US Rep. Dean Phillips, Marianne Williamson, and "uncommitted."

It is way for the state party to circumvent the rules of the DNC without being penalized, but this further highlights the reality that under the current system all presidential primaries and caucuses are preference elections.

None of these elections are truly binding. Look at New Hampshire, where the party decided the primary won't determine delegate selection -- because the system allows it.

The party could do that in Iowa, as well, if it felt it necessary to preserve its interests or any other state that doesn't comply with its demands. It could change its rules to ignore all primary and caucus results and nominate the candidate party leaders want.

And again, the system allows it.

This raises important questions for voters to consider:

Should publicly-funded elections be held hostage by the demands of private political parties? Who ultimately do elections serve, the interests of parties or the interests of voters? And whose interests should they serve?

Should private political corporations be allowed to determine who gets to vote, when, and whether or not their vote will actually count toward electoral outcomes? Especially, since these elections affect everyone?

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