The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday announced it will review the 2020 presidential nomination process, setting the stage for changes on how the party will choose who is at the top of the ticket in 2024.
The evaluation, to be conducted by the members of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, will focus on reforms made ahead of last year’s nomination process like increasing participation, caucus arrangements, and the role “superdelegates” play at the convention. It marks the first step in the years-long process to change any nomination rules ahead of the next presidential election.
A “Unity Resolution” passed during the DNC convention last summer mandated the review process to be completed by March 31, 2021, but it was ultimately delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The review will include “maximum engagement with the public and all stakeholders,” according to a DNC official, and there will be a process “for interested parties to share their thoughts and ideas online that will begin this spring.” The committee will hold two virtual meetings “over the coming months” that will be open to the public.
The public meetings represent the first opportunity to begin reviewing the nomination process, even though “this process does not include the writing and implementation of rules for the next presidential nominating process, which, as has been the case in every cycle, will not be done until the following year after a new RBC is in place,” according to a DNC official.
The meetings open the door to potentially greater limits to caucuses and further reductions of power of “superdelegates” beyond the reforms made ahead of 2020.
Progressives have long argued to get rid of superdelegates, due to concerns the unpledged delegates could change the outcome of who receives the party’s nomination. Though this has never occurred, it represents a sticking point among some establishment party members.
In order for superdelegates to vote in 2020, a candidate was required to earn enough delegates to make it mathematically impossible for superdelegates to change the outcome of the pledged delegates’ vote. Then-candidate Joe Biden surpassed that number, allowing all DNC delegates to participate.
While the committee review won’t officially assess the order in which states hold their contests, discussions about caucuses could raise the topic among participants.
Prominent Democrats, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have called for larger and more diverse states to lead off the nomination process, instead of Iowa and New Hampshire. Reid has publicly pushed for his home state of Nevada to go first in 2024.
Following a debacle during the Iowa caucuses last year – in which its new reporting app and backup phone system failed, leading to mass confusion and an inability for the first-in-the-nation voting contest to promptly conclude with a winner– some RBC members have expressed an openness to changing the order and further limiting caucuses in the few states that still use them.
Challenges between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg lingered for months after the Iowa contest.
While it’s unlikely the committee will outright ban caucuses, there could be more deliberations made as to whether the party should allow assembled meetings. In 2020, states holding caucuses were required to allow voting outside the precinct meeting in order to increase participation. Stricter rules could be considered for the future.
A similar review was held in 2017 after the contentious nomination process between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a separate commission who made recommendations to the rules committee.
Those recommendations led to changes in 2020, like the reduction of power of the superdelegates on the first ballot at the convention, caucus modifications to allow greater participation outside the official precinct meetings and greater efforts to increase voter registration.