In a bid to make some headway with the DNC, Iowa Democrats proposed dramatically changing their caucuses, a process that traditionally required voters to spend long evenings in church basements or gymnasiums to express their preferences. The arcane procedure had come under criticism from Democrats who worried it disenfranchised voters with jobs or children or less than a full evening in the middle of winter to devote to the task.
Instead, in filings with the DNC, Iowa Democrats proposed a vote-by-mail process. They emphasized the ability in Iowa of lesser-known candidates to make an impression in a small state, as Carter had, without requiring wheelbarrows full of money. And, cognizant of their electorate’s relative lack of diversity, they noted the success of Obama, a Black man, Hillary Clinton, a woman, and Pete Buttigieg, a gay man, here.
The national party does have some incentive to work with Iowa. That’s because Republicans will be caucusing here first in 2024 as usual, an extended campaign that will draw enormous media attention that Democrats will not want to be entirely cut out of.
The DNC could send messengers to Iowa to counter Republican talking points without sanctioning their own caucuses here. Still, there haven’t been any signs from the DNC that it would welcome Iowa back into an early state spot, and few people here are counting on it.
The calendar change was a “mistake,” said Tom Miller, Iowa’s longtime Democratic state attorney general who was defeated in November. “They’ve thrown out rural America.”
But, he told me, “They seem to be set in their ways.” Unlike years ago, Miller said, the DNC has “more power, and they have more allies.”