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The South Carolina Republican Primary Will be Feb. 24

The dates and order of the 2024 primaries are very contentious since the Democrats and Republicans have different ideas on the subject. The DNC wants South Carolina to go first. That immediately runs into a couple of problems. First, New Hampshire has a law saying its primary must go first. Second, South Carolina doesn't want to go first. In fact, it wants to go last among the early states. The residents of the Palmetto State have taken notice of what happened in 2020 (and other years) and noted that they are in an excellent position to play kingmaker. Any questions on that subject can be addressed to President Buttigieg (winner of the 2020 Iowa caucus, probably) or President Sanders (winner of the 2020 New Hampshire primary). Joe Biden, incidentally, finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in those two contests before winning South Carolina and then promptly clearing out the competition thereafter.

On Saturday, the South Carolina Republican Party voted unanimously to have its primary take place on Feb. 24, 2024. The RNC has to approve this decision. The expected date for the Iowa caucuses is Jan. 22. The New Hampshire Republican primary will probably be Feb. 13. Nevada is tentatively set for Feb. 6, but if it really sticks with that, New Hampshire will probably move its primary to Jan. 30. New Hampshire law gives the secretary of state the authority to set the primary date to whatever is necessary to be first. It's kind of like a political version of musical chairs. And that is just the Republican side.

The only date that is set in stone is March 5, Super Tuesday. The others could change. States don't like to have the Democratic and Republican primaries on different dates because it is more complicated and costs more. States set the dates for primaries and Republicans hold the trifecta in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, so they may just do what the RNC wants and ignore the DNC. Nevada has split control. Republicans have no problem with New Hampshire holding the first primary, but Democrats don't want that.

In 2016, South Carolina's primary came three days before Nevada's caucuses. Candidates were pinballing across the country to campaign in both. Nobody really wants that again, but each state wants to optimize its situation and neither the RNC nor the DNC can force any state to use its schedule.

Another thing the South Carolina Republican Party did on Saturday was set the primary filing fee at $50,000. That won't be a problem for the well-known candidates or the millionaires in the race, but it could be a barrier for some of the minor and unknown candidates like Asa Hutchinson and Francis Suarez. (V)

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