Democrats have been fighting over the rules for nominating presidents for half a century, with the modern primary system stemming from the McGovern-Frazier Commission established after the tumultuous 1968 convention. The order of the first four states – Iowa followed by New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – has been fixed since 2008, but chances are the DNC will upset that schedule. Part of the reason for the DNC’s moxie show is that Biden won the 2020 nomination in the South Carolina primary, despite an embarrassing fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary.
The first event likely to be dropped by Democrats is the rightly maligned Iowa caucuses. My memories of Iowa in the winter go back to the early 1980s, when first-time Republican candidate George Bush did push-ups at the YMCA in downtown Des Moines, ostensibly to prove he was ” ready for the 80s” and 68-year-old Ronald. Reagan was not. Democratic caucuses, in which supporters of each candidate must gather in public groups to be counted, often create dramatic scenes and memorable moments. In 2008, as Barack Obama swept through Iowa, I remember Hillary Clinton’s local organizer standing on a table at a Des Moines caucus site and shouting in frustration, “Electing the first female president would also make the ‘story.
Long ago, caucuses — which are effectively party meetings — could be justified as a way to gauge the sentiments of Democratic activists. But with the national attention given to the Iowa caucuses, they have evolved into an inept primary, in which local Democrats can neither quickly count the votes nor organize a valid recount. Sensing the changing tides, Nevada Democrats have already ditched their traditional caucus system for a primary in 2024.