Democrats support moving South Carolina ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire for their parties' primaries

Linley SandersData Journalist
December 20, 2022, 6:36 PM GMT+0

In an effort to increase diversity and representation within the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee proposed a major overhaul of the party's presidential primary voting schedule. If the proposal is confirmed by the full DNC early next year, it would end Iowa and New Hampshire's status as the first-in-the-nation caucus and primary, respectively, for Democratic presidential elections; the Republican Party's calendar would be unchanged. Voters in South Carolina would be the first to cast their ballot for the Democratic nominee in 2024, under the proposal.

Most Democrats (60%) support the proposed change to the presidential primary voting schedule, according to a new YouGov poll. Americans in each region of the country are more likely than not to support the proposed lineup change — though many have no opinion on the proposal.

A perception of fairness could be behind Democrats' support for the change. Democrats are nearly twice as likely to say that the current primary and caucus system greatly benefits some candidates over others (42%) than to say that it gives all candidates an equal chance (23%). Majorities of Democrats answered in the affirmative when asked whether the new calendar would be fair to Democratic voters (55%) and whether it would be fair to all Democratic presidential candidates in 2024 (53%). Democrats are more likely than not to say the change would benefit Joe Biden if he runs for president in 2024 (40% vs. 15%), but 45% are unsure.

The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries have been the first presidential nominating contests in the United States for decades (since 1972 and 1920, respectively). Though the Democratic Party's proposed calendar would not allow Iowa Democrats to vote first (they would be allowed to vote with a large contingent of states in March) the Republican Party has unanimously voted to keep the same primary voting calendar in place for 2024 — with Iowa going first, followed by New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Most Republicans (57%) support their party keeping the same calendar, compared to 37% of U.S. adult citizens and 31% of Democrats. As was the case with the Democratic Party calendar, two in five Americans have no opinion.

— Eli McKown-Dawson and Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: This poll was conducted on December 13 - 16, 2022, among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Adobe Stock (​​vesperstock)