Based on the GOP calendar, Jan. 23 is the widely anticipated date. It’s been more than a week since Iowa’s January 15 caucuses — just enough time for New Hampshire to be flooded with post-Iowa campaigning. With South Carolina’s Democratic primary on February 3 just over a week away, New Hampshire law requires the Granite State to hold its primary a week earlier. South Carolina’s GOP primary is February 24.
President Joe Biden and top Democrats wanted South Carolina — the most diverse state that prompted Biden’s nomination in 2020 — at the top of their 2024 calendar. New Hampshire will hold a second vote on a date shared with Nevada.
But Scanlan and other Republicans who have long controlled state government say they won’t bend to Democrats’ demands.
“Using racial diversity as a scapegoat in an attempt to reshape the presidential nominating calendar is an ugly move,” Scanlon said. “Diversity is not the real issue in this debate. At stake is who gets to decide a party’s nominee: elites in a national party caucus by controlling the nominating calendar or the electorate.”
Biden did not place his name on the New Hampshire primary ballot, expecting the state to hold an unsanctioned Democratic contest. His campaign manager, Julie Chavez-Rodriguez, wrote in a letter to state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley that “if the president wants to run in the primary race,” he “must” follow the DNC calendar he directed. Biden’s allies in the state are now running a write-in campaign on his behalf.
But Biden could still officially lose the unofficial primary to a long-shot candidate like Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) or Marianne Williamson, both of whom have filed for primary ballots and are campaigning in the state. A loss here would be an embarrassment to Biden’s path to renaming. Under Democratic rules passed last year, the state could lose half of its delegates if it held an unsanctioned primary.
“A lot of people see this as a power play by a few,” Buckley said in an interview, adding that they are angry that Bernie Sanders has done so well in the last two Democratic presidential primaries here. The independent Vermont senator won the 2016 and 2020 New Hampshire Democratic primaries. Meanwhile, Biden left the state for South Carolina before the election ended, finishing a fifth last term.
“No one wants to accept the president right now,” Buckley said. “I respect that. I know.”
Another consequence of Democrats moving up South Carolina: Scanlan moves New Hampshire’s primary to January after two cycles of February voting. The 2020 presidential election was on February 11. In 2016, it was February 9. But for three cycles before that, it was in January.
With many observers long anticipating a January 23 date, Scanlan’s announcement now gives the GOP field a solid goalpost.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who finished sixth in New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential race and ended his campaign that year, told reporters last week that the previous race was not an issue.
“Nobody’s been here more than me, so it’s not like I’m running out of time to make an impression,” Christie said last week after a town hall in Merrimack. “It’s not like people in New Hampshire don’t have enough [amount of] Time to see me, isn’t it? [the primary is] January 23, Jan. 30, Feb. 6.”
New Hampshire Republicans and Democrats are already gearing up to defend the state’s first primary again in 2028.
“If anything, try as hard as you can, we’re doing it right, we’re doing it well,” Sununu said. “Avoid New Hampshire at your own peril. Ask Rudy Giuliani how that worked out.