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Iowa Democrats could still hold 1st 2024 caucus against DNC's wishes, experts say

After a vote from the DNC, Iowa's democratic caucuses are no longer at the front of the national election calendar.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Despite the Democratic National Committee vote to officially strip the Iowa caucuses of their "first in the nation" status, Iowa Democrats say they are not giving up the fight, intending to follow state law and hold their caucus at the front of the election calendar.

Chapter 43.4 of the Iowa Code says that Iowa's caucuses have to be held at least eight days earlier than any other state's first vote for a presidential nominee, but it doesn't specify the consequences if Iowa doesn't go first. And on the other side of the battle, the DNC says they will penalize states for holding elections out of order.

"Any state that just jumps the line and tries to hold an earlier contest will have half of their delegates stripped at the national convention, any candidate who campaigns in one of those states will lose all their delegates from that state," said Rachel Paine Caufield, Professor of Political Science at Drake University.

Experts who spoke to Local 5 compared the stalemate between the Iowa Democrats and the DNC to a game of chicken. Because President Joe Biden is expected to be the party's nominee, the stakes for the 2024 caucuses aren't as high, but that means it could be a long wait to see who blinks first.

"Perhaps this means that we try to sort it out through legal processes and political gamesmanship with the goal of perhaps smoothing some of this over by 2028. But I don't envision it's gonna go away anytime soon," Paine Caufield said.

And the battle could affect more than just Democrats. 

While national Republicans are set to keep Iowa at the front of their calendar for now, some believe that shifting national attention away from the Hawkeye State may cause the GOP to think about the future of their own elections.

"If states like South Carolina seem to be more important and bigger and going first, and that's where the Democrats are, I need to go there and get my media attention too, and it may mean that it hurts the Republican caucuses too," said Tim Hagle, Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa.

Representatives from the Iowa Democratic party declined an interview request from Local 5 about their plans.

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