Pick your early Democratic primary states with our 2024 lineup builder

For the first time in 16 years, Democrats will change which states vote early in the presidential primaries. The full Democratic National Committee approved President Biden’s proposed early states for 2024 at a meeting in Philadelphia after a years-long rethink of how to prioritize racial and ethnic, geographic and income diversity, among other criteria.

For their part, Republicans have stuck with the traditional early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — in next year’s calendar. On Dec. 1, Biden selected 5 of the 18 states that had requested the DNC’s blessing to hold early nominating contests.

What would you prioritize? Using our early state generator below, you can pick from a selection of criteria used by the DNC to build your personalized “first five” state combination for the primaries.

Tell us which aspects are most important to you to see in early states. Our matching tool will find the best combination for you!

Check any number of items below to find your combination.

Representing the racial and ethnic breakdown of the U.S.

Representing the income breakdown of the U.S.

Representing the urban, suburban and rural breakdown of the U.S.

Representing the Eastern, Southern, Midwestern, and Western regions of the U.S.

States that are more competitive in a general election

States with higher rates of voter participation

States have long jockeyed for position in the primary calendar, looking to secure the influence, campaign spending and face-time that come with being an early decider.

“Ever since the reform movement of the 1970s, the earliest states have had an enormous impact on the voters in subsequent states,” said Elaine Kamarck, a government scholar at the Brookings Institution and DNC rules committee member. “Which is why the early states spend so much time and effort trying to be early and which is why presidential candidates spend so much money and so much time in those early states.”

[The first four caucus and primary states don’t look like America. Combined, they get closer.]

For this analysis, The Washington Post created a tool that takes every combination of five states among the 18 DNC applicants and eliminates options that don’t fit with your preferred criteria. (Puerto Rico and the group of Democrats voting abroad also applied for consideration but are not included here because of lack of comparable data.)

Biden’s picks meet several of the criteria examined in the analysis, including geographic diversity — Michigan would replace Iowa as the Midwestern state — and competitiveness in the general election.

The schedule addresses concerns that White voters had outsize influence in the first month of voting. Iowa, a predominantly White state that has been the first major contest of the primary season, will be cut out of the first-five lineup according to Biden’s plan. The state’s caucuses were criticized after a range of issues delayed vote results in 2020.

[DNC: New York and Nebraska Democrats won’t go early in 2024 primaries]

Black voters, an important bloc in the Democratic coalition, were crucial to Biden’s securing the nomination in 2020. Biden’s lineup includes two states with high Black population share — Georgia and South Carolina — though Georgia Republicans who control the state’s elections set a March 12 primary, blocking Biden’s plans. South Carolina would vote first according to Biden’s plan.

In fact, the Black population share in Biden’s early states is larger than the United States broadly. (More than 20 percent of the combined population of Biden’s early states versus 12 percent of the United States as a whole.) The Hispanic share in Biden’s lineup is only 10 percent, falling short of the 19 percent of the country as a whole.

Here are the states Biden selected:

An illustration South Carolina looking happy

South Carolina

An illustration New Hampshire looking happy

New Hampshire

An illustration Nevada looking happy


An illustration Georgia looking happy


An illustration Michigan looking happy


Obstacles remain for implementing the plan. While the DNC is ready to approve Biden’s picks, Democrats and Republicans in New Hampshire vowed to defy it by declaring their intent to hold the first in the nation primary at least a week before South Carolina.

Biden told fellow Democrats in a letter that he did not want to bind the party to the same calendar in 2028.

“The Rules and Bylaws Committee should review the calendar every four years, to ensure that it continues to reflect the values and diversity of our party and our country,” he wrote.

Michael Scherer contributed to this report.


The tool created for this analysis uses the criteria selected to narrow the list of all 8,568 possible combinations of five states that can be made from the 18 states that applied for consideration from the Democratic National Committee. Puerto Rico and the group of Democrats voting abroad also applied for consideration but are not included here because of lack of comparable data. Any combination that does not meet a requirement selected by the user is eliminated.

For the questions on race, income and urbanization, the model retains any five-state combination whose combined race, income or urbanization breakdowns are similar to the country at large. Urbanization is measured using a three-level aggregation of the National Center for Health Statistics Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties. If the user says yes to representing each region of the United States, only combinations that use a state from each of the four regions, as defined by the DNC, are included. If the user indicated a preference for competitiveness in the general election, the tool maintained only combinations with at least four states that had a vote margin within eight percentage points in the 2020 presidential election. And to gauge high rates of voter participation, the combination of states needed to have an average turnout greater than nationwide turnout in the 2020 presidential election.

Once the user picks their criteria, the tool finds all the five-state combinations that are eligible for all of the user’s choices simultaneously. This tailored list of combinations is then ranked from best to worst, taking each of the user’s criteria into consideration equally.

Illustrations by Lucy Naland. Graphics editing by Kevin Uhrmacher. Data editing by Anu Narayanswamy and Lenny Bronner. Copy editing by Sarah Mark.