President Biden will not appear on New Hampshire’s 2024 Democratic primary ballot, as the state’s insistence on retaining its “first in the nation” tradition — in contradiction of the DNC’s new primary calendar — is causing intra-party conflict.
“While the president wishes to participate in the Primary, he is obligated as a Democratic candidate for President to comply with the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2024 Democratic National Convention promulgated by the Democratic National Committee,” Biden 2024 campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez wrote in a letter to the New Hampshire Democratic party chairman. “In accordance with this guidance, Biden for President will refrain from submitting a Declaration of Candidacy.”
In February, the DNC approved a new early-primary sequence, booting the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary from their respective first and second slots. The new DNC schedule puts South Carolina first, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire going on the same day. In 2020, Biden placed a crummy fifth in the New Hampshire primary, garnering just 8.4% of the votes and trailing Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.
Biden’s 2020 campaign was resuscitated in South Carolina, after a pivotal endorsement by influential black Rep. James Clyburn. In February, the DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said the new sequence “puts black voters at the front of the process in South Carolina.”
Though New Hampshire Democrats are loath to surrender their first-in-the-nation position, they actually have no choice but to flout the DNC’s wishes: New Hampshire law requires that the state conduct the first of any primary in the country. The state has yet to set a date, but it will be sometime before South Carolina’s Democratic primary on Feb. 3.
Biden’s absence in New Hampshire will create an opportunity for challengers to make headlines. With Robert F. Kennedy, Jr dropping out of the Democratic race to pursue an independent run, the sole challenger of any significance is self-help author and 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson. That’s about to change: As we reported on Friday, wealthy Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips is about to announce his challenge to Biden.
Phillips has previously pointed to Biden’s age as a liability, saying “the country is begging for alternatives” to Biden and Trump. He’s expected to announce his candidacy in New Hampshire on Friday. Any lingering uncertainty about his decision evaporated on Tuesday, when a bus was spotted on a highway in Ohio, emblazoned with “Dean Phillips for President,” DEAN24.com and the slogans “Make America Affordable Again” and “Everyone’s Invited.”
That said, even without Biden’s name printed on the ballot, winning New Hampshire won’t be a layup for Phillips or Williamson — because voters will still have the option of writing Biden’s name on the ballot. If most Granite State Democrats write Biden’s name in, the tallying of votes could take much longer.
Some Democrats are already gearing up for a write-in campaign. That’s a bit of a calculated risk: The more they seriously pursue a victory via write-ins — as opposed to shrugging off Biden’s absence and not contending — the more a reasonably strong performance or outright victory by Phillips or Williamson could underscore Biden’s weakness. Note that a September poll found that 67% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents want someone other than Biden.