Iowa Democrats’ plan for 2024 presidential caucus results could prompt NH to leap ahead

Iowa Democrats will begin mailing presidential preference cards for their 2024 caucuses on Jan. 12 and announce the results on Super Tuesday in March — a compromise with national party leaders who removed Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status earlier this year as they reorder the presidential nominating calendar.

If approved, the decision would put to rest many questions about how Iowa Democrats will caucus in 2024.

But it could trigger renewed conflict with New Hampshire, which has opposed Iowa’s transition to a mail-in caucus, and could in turn threaten Iowa Republicans’ place at the front of the presidential nominating calendar.

The Iowa Democratic Party previously announced it would move to an absentee caucus system for casting presidential preferences in 2024 to improve access and participation. But party leaders have been vague about how they would tally and announce the results.

The party released those details Friday morning in a letter issued to the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee and shared with the Des Moines Register. The committee will meet Friday morning to discuss the proposal for the Iowa caucus in 2024.

“We believe this delegate selection plan is a compromise and meets the requirements set forth by this committee, complies with Iowa law, and most importantly sets Iowa Democrats up to win in 2024,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart wrote in the letter.

2024 Iowa caucus calendarSee when and where GOP presidential candidates are campaigning

How Iowa Democrats would caucus under the new plan

If the plan is approved, the result will be a dramatically different presidential caucus in 2024. No longer will Iowa Democrats gather in person to physically stand and be counted as they tally presidential support on Caucus Day.

Instead, Democrats would register for the Iowa Caucuses and request a presidential preference card beginning Nov. 1, 2023. Those cards would be mailed out to participants beginning Jan. 12, 2024, and would functionally work like a mail-in primary ballot.

Iowans could request a preference card until Feb. 19 and return it through the mail until March 5. The party would release results on March 5, which is known as “Super Tuesday,” when voters head to the polls in more than a dozen states.

The party will still hold in-person caucuses on Jan. 15 — the same day Iowa Republicans will hold their traditional first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses — to conduct other party business unrelated to presidential preferences.

Hart noted in her letter that she expects the DNC committee to revisit the entire calendar conversation ahead of the 2028 election cycle, possibly giving Iowa a chance to regain a place in the early voting window.

“I am pleased to have repeated reassurance from the co-chairs and this committee that the presidential nominating calendar discussions will once again be opened up for 2028, where I expect Iowa to compete strongly for a significant voice in the selection of the Democratic nominee as we have for years,” she wrote.

New Hampshire threatens to leapfrog Iowa on the nominating calendar

Though the final details of the Democrats’ plan were made public Friday, the conversation has been swirling for months — raising concerns among Iowa Republicans who see a growing threat to their own caucuses.

In her letter to the committee, Hart preemptively pushed back on those fears.

“Republicans continue to attack our inclusive Iowa Caucuses and have conspired to meddle in our party business,” she wrote. “Despite their empty rhetoric, I’ve always said I will do what’s best for Iowa.”

State law says Iowa must hold first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, and New Hampshire state law says it must hold the nation’s first primaries.

New Hampshire leaders have not taken issue with Iowa leading off the calendar — so long as it holds caucuses rather than primaries.

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