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Are the Democrats Making a Mistake in New Hampshire?

The Democrats have been considering changing their primary schedule ever since Iowa blew it in 2020. Then, out of the blue, Joe Biden came up with his own schedule, which puts South Carolina first. This is going to create a huge problem because New Hampshire is not going to take this lying down. Chris Weigant makes the point that Biden has caused more trouble than it is worth by doing this and should relent and let New Hampshire go first.

The rap against New Hampshire is that the state is 90% white. That is really the only problem with it. On all the other metrics for early states, it scores very well. It is a small state, which allows unknown candidates to have a chance without first raising a bazillion dollars. Campaigning there in the freezing cold and snow really separates the sheep from the goats (polar bears from the regular bears?) because anyone not willing to do that probably does not have enough fire in the belly to run a successful campaign. New Hampshire voters are used to their first-in-the-nation role and take it extremely seriously, showing up at town halls and grilling all the candidates. New Hampshire is in New England, a region the Democrats can't ignore. Finally, the Granite State is a swing state. Both senators and both representatives are Democrats but the governor is a Republican and Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, so it is a good test of how the candidates fare with Republican voters.

Current state law requires New Hampshire to set its primary date a week before any other primary. Bill Gardner, the previous secretary of state, was adamant that he'd hold the primary before Halloween if he had to in order to go first. The state legislature is unlikely to change the law just because the national Democrats want it changed, especially since state Democrats do not want it changed.

It is worth noting that South Carolina isn't perfect either. It is much bigger than New Hampshire and not as suited to retail politics as the Granite State. It is also not a swing state but a deep red state that no Democrat could ever win (so why waste time campaigning there?). About 60% of South Carolina Democrats are Black and it is certainly possible that if Biden opts out, Kamala Harris could win South Carolina, even though she has proven herself to be a weak national candidate, putting the Democrats in a bind. Also, South Carolina voters have no experience with the enormous responsibility of going first.

So what is likely to happen? New Hampshire probably won't change its law and will schedule its primary a week before South Carolina's. The DNC will then announce that if New Hampshire does that, it will lose its delegates to the national convention. New Hampshire won't budge. The DNC will then announce that any candidate who campaigns there will be tarred and feathered and be broken on the wheel. No serious Democrat will step foot in the state. Then what?

Cue Marianne Williamson, who ran a tilting-at-windmills campaign in 2020 and is considering a run again in 2024. If she files as a Democrat, she will get on the ballot, possibly along with a few other kooks and cranks. She will probably win big time. The day after the primary the papers will have as the headline: "Williamson wins New Hampshire in a Landslide." The media will play it up for all it is worth (because there will be no other political news that day) and she will be interviewed by every media outlet from CNN to the East Cupcake Middle School Reporter. Do the Democrats really want to promote her to being a "serious candidate"? Remember in 2020, she ran on a platform of fighting the "dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred."

Weigant concludes that since the Democrats have no way to force New Hampshire to give up its first-in-the-nation position (especially since state Democrats want it to go first), they would be better off just letting it go first on some Tuesday in February and allowing everyone to compete there. Then schedule South Carolina next. How much damage could New Hampshire do in a week, especially if it was a split decision between the two states? In any event, Iowa and its bizarre caucus system will be sent to the end of the line. (V)

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