The generally accepted notion is that President Joe Biden will be the uncontested choice as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
However, to solidify his position, Biden has repositioned the South Carolina primary — the location of his initial and decisive victory in the 2020 primaries, although it was the fourth state to vote — to commence the primary cycle.
The intention is to ensure an easy victory in South Carolina, reinforcing his status as the party’s only credible contender, a defensive strategy.
In this move, Biden and the Democratic National Committee have effectively disregarded Iowa and New Hampshire, the traditional states to initiate the primary process.
Given the chaos experienced in the 2020 Iowa caucuses, where Democrats faced difficulty counting votes on Election Night, and New Hampshire’s trend of favoring independent, dark horse candidates, the decision seems in line with minimizing risks for Biden’s campaign.
Leading with South Carolina, where black voters make up a considerable portion of the Democratic primary electorate, gives them more influence and aligns with the party’s commitment to diversity.
In 2020, Biden suffered significant losses to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who emerged victorious in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, becoming the first candidate from either party to win all three initial nominating contests.
After Biden’s single legitimate win in South Carolina, the anxious Democratic establishment quickly rallied behind him.
In South Carolina, the party leaders typically have a firm hold on the primary process. Biden benefitted greatly from the endorsement of Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) in the lead-up to the 2020 primary. The former Vice President’s close ties with Barack Obama and the utilization of party resources also played a significant role in rallying the vote.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., actively campaigning in New Hampshire, could potentially seize a victory there.
Democratic Party leaders and their media allies might then downplay the significance of the New Hampshire primary, citing its lack of diversity.
The subsequent Nevada primary on Feb. 6, which has a large Latino population, could be a game-changer. Biden hasn’t traditionally performed well in Nevada; in 2020, Sanders won nearly half the votes compared to Biden’s 20 percent.
However, even if Kennedy doesn’t outright win Nevada, a victory in New Hampshire could sway Democratic voters in other states to consider him a legitimate alternative.
In such a case, Biden and the party leadership will need to mobilize campaigns in other states swiftly — or maintain that the South Carolina result is the only one that truly matters.