116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Nevada’s governor this month signed a bill scrapping the state’s caucuses, creating a primary and leapfrogging that contest to the front of the presidential nomination calendar.
It would be the first-in-the-nation Nevada Primary. That obviously isn’t sitting well with party leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire, the current sites of the first-in-the-nation caucus and primary.
The calendar debate is mainly among Democrats, who have come to regard caucuses as archaic events that lack the capacity for early voting and are inaccessible to shift workers, disabled people and others who can’t show up for a three-hour political meeting.
The 2020 Democratic caucuses, which saw an embarrassing breakdown in the Iowa Democratic Party’s Effort to report reliable results, has further fueled the anti-caucus push. Criticism of the caucus process is added on to the traditional knocks on Iowa’s lack of racial diversity.
We’ve seen this scuffling at the presidential starting line before, and the leadoff lineup has always survived. New Hampshire has its own state law requiring that it hold the first primary, and state officials have shown a willingness to move the primary date as early as it takes to be first.
New Hampshire’s aggression also hems in Iowa. A primary would be superior to a caucus in terms of participation, accessibility and providing clear, understandable results. But if Iowa chooses a primary, it runs afoul of New Hampshire.
Bottom line, the final decision on who goes first is up to national party leaders. Republicans have shown no interest in changing the calendar and potential GOP candidates are already visiting the state.
National Democrats need to settle this sooner than later. If leaders decide to shuffle the calendar to put a primary in a more diverse state first, so be it. But if our first-in-the nation caucuses survive this latest battle, national Democrats should get to work in cooperation with Iowa Democrats to make caucus changes with the goal of making them more accessible.
In 2020, according to a state Democratic caucus post-mortem, it was meddling and lack of cooperation from the national party that contributed to caucus night problems. That can’t happen again.
As for all the past instances when the caucuses were threatened, they have always had one big advantage over their detractors. No one has been able to come up with a better, more acceptable plan for picking a nominee. If that continues, Iowa is likely to remain first.
(319) 398-8262; firstname.lastname@example.org