The Democratic National Committee recently unveiled a revamped presidential primary calendar that gives South Carolina the first-in-the-nation status that Iowa has enjoyed for more than 50 years.
Not only did South Carolina play a pivotal role in securing President Joe Biden’s nomination ahead of the 2020 election, but Democrats have had a notoriously difficult time gaining traction in midwestern states like Iowa.
The White House was an ardent proponent of the new schedule, which gives New Hampshire and Nevada a vote three days after South Carolina. While Georgia and Michigan will be able to weigh in on the primary earlier than in the past, Iowa is no longer among the early-voting states on the calendar.
D.C. insiders say that the change is a political gift not only to Biden, assuming he decides to seek re-election next year, but also a boon for Vice President Kamala Harris should she launch another White House bid.
Harris received a consolation spot on Biden’s ticket after she dropped out of the 2020 primary race amid a dismal reception in Iowa despite her assertion that she was “practically living” in the state ahead of its caucus.
Despite her intense focus on campaigning in Iowa, she found herself in fifth place by late September as only 6% of Democratic voters selected her as their top choice. Less than two months later, that percentage was cut in half and she was in a tie for sixth place with a number of largely unknown candidates.
It has been the honor of my life to be your candidate. We will keep up the fight. pic.twitter.com/RpZhx3PENl
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) December 3, 2019
Of course, Harris has not improved her favorability nationwide since she became vice president. Not only is her job approval rating three points below Biden, but her popularity lags far behind any of her recent predecessors at the same point in their respective terms.
Biden also struggled in Iowa, placing fifth in the caucuses and leaving his campaign on the ropes until the South Carolina primary put him on solid footing to secure the nomination.
Without any prominent national leaders hailing from the midwest and a South Carolina electorate that would play to their political advantage, the new primary calendar might be the best hope for either Biden or Harris to salvage what is left of their political careers.