New Hampshire’s First in the Nation primary has not picked a Democratic nominee since John Kerry in 2004 — or a winning Democratic president since Jimmy Carter in 1976 — and now it appears the national party has had enough.
On Wednesday the Democratic National Committee threw out its presidential primary calendar, threw Iowa and New Hampshire under the bus, and threw open the doors for every state to apply to be one of the early states in the nomination process.
Under the new approach, states will apply for the opportunity to be one of the four — or perhaps five — early, stand-alone states. The criteria will include racial diversity, ethnic diversity, the rural and urban mix, and whether the state has laws allowing early voting.
Michigan, New Jersey, and Nevada have already expressed interest in moving to the front of the Democrats’ primary election line.
“Let the chips fall where they may,” said Scott Brennan, a rules committee member from Iowa.
While the Republican Party has solidly stuck by the Granite State’s First in the Nation status, Democrats have openly complained about the primary — and the state’s older, Whiter primary voters — for years. Former DNC Chair Tom Perez has repeatedly said he believes having Iowa and New Hampshire go first is a mistake. “A diverse state or states need to be first,” Perez said. “The difference between going first and going third is really important. We know the importance of momentum in Democratic primaries.”
And now the DNC is taking action.
With fifth-place finisher Joe Biden in the White House and a Democratic Party focused heavily on identity politics, the forecast for New Hampshire is mixed at best. The message from the state Democratic Party, however, is “stay calm, all is well.”
“I am confident that New Hampshire will keep its first-in-the-nation primary,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Executive Director Troy Price. “Folks shouldn’t be worried.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan tweeted, “New Hampshire has held the First In The Nation primary for over 100 years, and that’s not going to change. We’ve defended our primary before and we will do it again.”
State Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley raised eyebrows when he sent a non-Granite Stater, Joanne Dowdell, to represent the state on the rules committee. State Democrats may also be undermined by their own electorate. In a 2021 UNH Survey Center poll, 61 percent of registered Republicans and 48 percent of undeclared voters supported the New Hampshire FITN state law. But just 29 percent of Democrats felt the same. A solid 43 percent of Democrats were neutral and 17 percent opposed the law.
Republicans demanded Democrats step up to defend the primary.
“The National Democratic Party’s attempt to undermine New Hampshire’s presidential primary is blatantly disregarding over a century of hard work and dedication by Granite Staters toward perfecting this cherished process,” said NHGOP Chair Stephen Stepanek.
“We call upon Sen. Shaheen, Sen. Hassan, Congresswoman Anne Kuster, Congressman Chris Pappas, and the New Hampshire Democrat Party to reaffirm their stance alongside us as a show of unity against this attempt to undermine our FITN Primary.”