New Hampshire primary: Why is Joe Biden off the ballot?

Joe Biden
Image caption,Joe Biden has skipped the New Hampshire primary due to a decision made by the Democratic National Committee, which stripped the state of its delegates.

New Hampshire Democrats are voting in the state primary, but President Joe Biden is not on the ballot.

Mr Biden is skipping the primary, as the Democratic Party decided South Carolina should be first to vote.

New Hampshire has refused to move its primary, causing the party to strip it of its delegates.

Mr Biden is banking on a write-in effort to stave off the potential embarrassment of a shock loss to Dean Phillips, a Democratic congressman.

The Republican primary has soaked up much of the attention, but the Democratic one is trundling on as well despite a major party disagreement and a lack of delegates for the winner.

The Granite State has long been the first primary in the nation, but the Democratic National Committee elected to have South Carolina go first in 2024. They said that the southern state’s diverse population was more reflective of the country.

But New Hampshire did not move its primary – it is bound by its state constitution to be first – which caused it to lose its delegates. Mr Biden also chose to follow the party’s decision and did not register as a result.

Dean Phillips
Image caption,Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat, is challenging Joe Biden

That has left the US president potentially vulnerable to losing to Mr Phillips, a Minnesota congressman who has chosen to self-fund a challenge of Mr Biden.

Mr Phillips maintains that Mr Biden, 81, is a “weak candidate” who may very well lose against Donald Trump in the fall.

“I’m just afraid that Democrats are sleepwalking into disaster,” Mr Phillips, 55, told the BBC. “We did it in 2016. It is unforgivable and shameful to do the same thing knowingly this year.”

A long-time moderate, Mr Phillips came to office in 2019. As the heir to his stepfather’s Phillips Distilling Company empire, which owns major schnapps and liquor brands, he is one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

He has tapped into that wealth in New Hampshire.

Mr Phillips has spent more than $5m on ads in the state, according to ad-tracking firm AdImpact. Mr Biden, meanwhile, has only spent $156,000.

Marianne Williamson addresses the audience during a Democratic Candidate debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, on 8 January 2024
Image caption,Motivational speaker Marianne Williamson is another contender in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary

The president’s allies have not given up on New Hampshire totally, however.

There is an effort for voters to write Mr Biden’s name in on their ballots, which could lead to a win.

Polling by CNN and the University of New Hampshire published on Sunday suggests that the president enjoys a formidable lead, despite the curious circumstances.

The survey showed that 63% of likely Democratic primary voters intend to write in Mr Biden’s name.

But Mr Phillips is not the only Democratic challenger.

Marianne Williamson, 71, an author and motivational speaker, is another longshot contender in the New Hampshire primary.

There is also an effort by activists for Democrats to write “ceasefire” on their ballots instead of the president’s name, because of Mr Biden’s support for Israel.

While none of the candidates will receive delegates from campaigning in New Hampshire, which they need to win the nomination, the apparent strategy is to show that Mr Biden is weak among voters and the party needs to shift to another candidate.

“Most Americans understand that democracy thrives with competition, and it dies with coronations,” Mr Phillips said, echoing a line used by Republican candidate Nikki Haley.

“This is not about condemning someone [and] taking him down. This is about running for something. And I wish more Democrats would do so.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *