The first-in-the-nation Republican presidential caucus has officially been scheduled after Iowa Republicans gathered on July 8 and voted unanimously on the date.
“The Republican Party of Iowa is proud to announce that we will officially hold our 2024 First-in-the-Nation Caucus on January 15, 2024,” Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, said in a statement.
As in past primary cycles, the Iowa caucus will be the first Republican presidential primary caucus in the nation, often described as the first major electoral test for White House contenders.
Early contest states play a crucial role in selecting the nominee since candidates who struggle with fundraising or popularity tend to drop out before campaigning in other states. These states also receive a lot of media attention and become centers for policy debates.
Matthew Dallek, a professor of political history at George Washington University, told PBS during the 2020 election cycle that the Iowa Republican caucuses effectively serve as “referendums on who is the most socially conservative candidate” in the Republican field.
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The announcement comes as the national Democratic Party in February approved changes to its presidential primary calendar for 2024. Instead, South Carolina has replaced Iowa in that party’s leadoff spot.
Iowa Democrats have proposed changes to the caucus process, allowing them to conduct their presidential preference vote by mail.
Under the Democratic plan, which was endorsed by President Joe Biden, South Carolina will hold its primary on Feb. 3, 2024. This will be followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6.
“The Democratic Party looks like America and so does this proposal,” Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Jaime Harrison, of South Carolina, said at the time.
The change “continues to make us stronger and elevates the backbone of our party,” he said.
Mr. Kaufmann, who spoke to reporters by teleconference on July 8 about the caucuses, blamed Mr. Biden for jeopardizing Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status, saying that “Biden thumbed his nose at Iowa Democrats and Iowans.”
“After our state legislature and governor took needed action earlier this year to preempt Iowa Democrats’ plans to derail the Iowa Caucus by running a de facto primary election instead, we are also proud to affirm that Iowa will continue to honor our half-century-old promises to the other carveout states,” Mr. Kaufmann said in a statement.
“We remain committed to maintaining Iowa’s cherished First-in-the-Nation Caucuses.”
He noted that Iowa Republicans are looking forward to “holding a historic caucus in the coming months and defeating Joe Biden come November 2024.”
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart told media outlets in a statement that, regardless of the fact that Iowa Democrats have lost the first-in-the-nation caucus, they remain undeterred in their campaign aims.
“No matter what, Iowa Democrats are committed to moving forward with the most inclusive caucus process in Iowa’s history,” Ms. Hart said in the statement. “We’re committed to doing what’s good for Democrats, what’s good for Iowa, and what’s good for democracy.”
Elsewhere, South Carolina Republicans have set Feb. 24, 2024, as the date of their 2024 presidential primary, a move that the party says will give Republican White House hopefuls more time to campaign in the first-in-the-South state.
While the selection still needs to be approved by the Republican National Committee to be official, South Carolina Republican Party Executive Director Hope Walker told The Associated Press recently that a formal submission will be sent ahead of the October deadline.
“This is a great opportunity for South Carolina Republicans and for our candidates and the voters in South Carolina to get to interact one on one, not just in large masses,” Ms. Walker told the outlet.
Democrats appear to have been struggling with Mr. Biden’s plan to overhaul the 2024 presidential primary schedule.
In late June, a DNC rules panel gave New Hampshire until Sept. 1 to comply with new rules that leaders there fiercely oppose. At the same time, the committee opted to not immediately offer such an extension to another battleground state, Georgia, which hasn’t set its date for next year’s primary.
Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.