YORK COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Democratic Party is gearing up early ahead of the 2024 presidential election, and that means shaking things up with the presidential primary.
After a vote from the Democratic National Committee, South Carolina will be the first presidential primary voting state. The change removes Iowa from the top spot for the first time in decades.
States with early contests have a considerable influence in determining the nominee because White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting states outside the first five.
“It puts us right in the middle of the spotlight,” said York County Democrat Party President John Kraljevich.
This decision will allow states with racially diverse populations to have more say in early presidential contests, which can set the tone for the rest of a campaign.
Kraljevich says this will significantly impact the state and even certain counties like York County.
“It’s going to have an enormous economic impact because you’re going to have all these campaigns coming here,” he said. “They’re going to be living here for months on end, their staffs going to be living here for a long time. And for local voters democratic or otherwise, they’re going to be able to meet all these folks.”
There were more than 3.4 million registered voters in South Carolina in 2022. Nearly 197,000 came from York County.
In 2020, the statewide number was just over 3.3 million people. Nearly 284,000 voters were Democrats — and over 466,000 Republicans.
President Joseph Biden says the new arrangement of primary states is to empower Black and minority voters. The Pew Research Center’s latest study shows 78% of Democratic voters in South Carolina are minorities. Just under a million of those 3.4 million registered voters are non-white.
“Obviously, you’ve got lots of people of color. Our party is majority-minority here in South Carolina, but it’s also not exclusively black. You’ve got all sorts of folks here. You’ve got rural African Americans. Obviously, you’ve got rural African-Americans all over the South. There’s not a whole lot of them in New Hampshire or in Iowa. You get a chance to hear those kinds of concerns,” he said.
As for S.C. Republicans, party leaders are more than happy with their standing in the primary schedule.
“South Carolina is proudly first in the South for the Republican primary, and we’re more than satisfied that it will stay that way,” South Carolina Republican Party chairman Drew McKissick said.
The Republican National Committee already has set an early primary calendar that preserves the old order, meaning some states either would have to hold their primaries on separate dates or risk sanctions from one party or the other.
South Carolina voters will now vote on Feb. 3. The following states, New Hampshire and Nevada go on Feb. 6.