Latino-Heavy Nevada Looks to Host First-in-Nation Presidential Primary in 2024

Aug 1, 2022
5:44 PM

A mariachi band waits to perform before a campaign event with former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Saturday, January 11, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The decision as to which state will cast the first ballots in the 2024 presidential primary has been paused until after the midterm elections in November, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) told its members on Saturday.

In a memo issued by Jim Roosevelt, Jr. and Minyon Moore co-chairs of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which is in charge of setting the calendar, said they were still “answering several final but critical questions regarding election administration and feasibility in their states.”

“It has become clear that the best way to move forward with the final stage of this process is to postpone the committee’s decision on the pre-window rule until after the midterm elections,” the two wrote.

The DNC rules committee voted in April to reopen the presidential primary window, leading 16 states and Puerto Rico to begin making their pitches as to why they should be the first to nominate a presidential candidate in 2024. The group’s final decision was previously scheduled for Saturday, August 6.

The contest for the first spot has been particularly fierce, and the final decision will likely speak volumes as to the Democratic Party’s priorities in terms of voters and policies.

Iowa, whose caucuses come in early February, wants to maintain its long-coveted first spot, while New Hampshire wants to keep its title as the first-in-the-nation primary, which came a week after Iowa in 2020. Critics say both states should be removed from their privileged positions due to their outstanding lack of diversity.

Its lack of diversity aside, Iowa is still coming under fire for a 2020 fiasco in which a voting app malfunction caused the voting results of the caucuses to go unreported for weeks.

Nevada, which held its last caucuses in late February 2020 before switching to the primary system, is the third most diverse state in the country, with a nearly 30 percent Latino population. It is the only state currently in the running with such a significant amount of Latino voters, who in recent years have become the second largest voting bloc by ethnicity in the country—Latinos cast 16.6 million votes in 2020, an increase of 30.9 percent over 2016. 

According to a report published last year by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, Latino voters were decisive in sending Joe Biden to the White House in 2020.  

“It is critical that the Democratic Party not miss this opportunity to prioritize meaningful representation and winning elections over protecting outdated traditions,” said Nathalie Rayes, president and CEO of Latino Victory Fund, which works to increase Latino representation in local, state, and federal elections, said in a statement.

Rayes says Nevada offers the best platform for candidates to demonstrate their prioritization of the kind of broad and diverse coalition-building needed to go the distance and win the White House.

Among other supporters of Nevada’s bid is the CHC BOLD PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, working since 2011 to increase Latino representation in Congress.

In a statement signed by CHC BOLD PAC chair Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and CHC chair Raul Ruiz, the group said its endorsement of Nevada’s bid to cast the first ballots in the next presidential election is based on its commitment to raising the influence of Latino voters in elections.

“The presidential primary calendar should start with a state that looks like America, reflects our party’s priorities, and embodies our nation’s rich diversity,” said Gallego and Ruiz.

The two explained that redirecting the Democratic Party’s focus to Latino communities, besides better reflecting the country’s diversity, would help bring the needs of Latino communities needs to the forefront, getting candidates to address them earlier and with a more accurate approach.

If DNC still favors Nevada’s bid after the midterms, the move would mean a significant change for the electoral landscape, allowing a more diverse state to set the tone in a presidential election year.

María Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino, the country’s largest national Latino voting rights group, said in a statement that the Democratic Party should strongly consider Nevada to kick off future nominating contests since it represents the direction in which the nation is moving.

Kumar highlights Nevada’s inclusiveness, strong union base, accessible voting laws, and multiracial coalition of younger voters. She also argues that Nevada’s going first would change the way the media covers voters of color.

New Hampshire Democrats have hosted the first primary for more than 100 years. The state has a 90 percent white population. New Hampshire’s lack of diversity is such that there is not enough data to count Latino voters or other communities of color in that same election.

“Latino voters are a critical part of the Democratic coalition and will remain key to winning the White House and majorities in the House and Senate for years to come,” Gallego and Ruiz said in their statement. The two argue that, if the Democrats engage with Latino voters earlier, it would put the party in a stronger position and secure a favorable result in November.

Nevada is also home to a great number of young Latino voters and new Latino citizens. Cecia Alvarado, Nevada executive director of Somos Votantes, which advocates for increasing Latino participation in democracy, told Latino Rebels that giving Nevada the first turn is also a way to empower first-time Latino voters.

“Whether they are a young Latino or Latinx person or a new citizen, having the opportunity to vote first in the state that votes first, means you are representing the rest of Latinos in the country, and that really adds more value to our voices as voters,” Alvarado said.


Juan de Dios Sánchez Jurado is a summer correspondent for Futuro Media. A writer, lawyer, and journalist from Colombia, he is currently studying at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.