MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina’s new spot atop the Democratic primary calendar casts a spotlight on state voters heading into the 2024 presidential election season.

Traditionally, Iowa and New Hampshire have led off Democratic voting, and moving South Carolina from fourth to first is a change that one Pee Dee professor thinks is a better representation of the party.

David White, a political science professor at Francis Marion University in Florence County, pointed out that South Carolina’s population is nearly 27% Black and that African American voters represent a consistent base of support for Democrats.

”The Democratic Party has made a big deal about ‘we’re a very diverse party,’ and that should be reflected in how we nominate our president,” White said. “Iowa is you know, a largely white state. New Hampshire’s a largely white state, and so their argument being that it’s not helping to push a winner that reflects the party.”

White said the change is also a reward for South Carolina’s Democratic Party for its role in helping President Biden get elected in 2020.

Former South Carolina Gov. James Hodges, a Democrat, agrees that the switch gives Black voters a greater say in the nominating process and creates an easier re-election path for Biden.

“We’re first up at bat, and I think it’s pretty good to be first at-bat,” Hodges said. “Momentum is so important when it comes to presidential campaigns. If someone has momentum heading out of South Carolina, they’re likely to continue to be very successful in the campaign and to get the nomination.”

Newly elected Republican U.S. Rep. Russel Fry of South Carolina agrees that the change will make the presidential campaign in his home state more interesting.

“For years, we’ve said this on the Republican side, and I think it also applies on the Dems’ side, too,” Frye said. “The road to the White House runs through South Carolina, so it’s going to be really interesting to see how this unfolds, both for the Republicans and the Democrats for the next two years.”

South Carolina is set to hold the nation’s first Democratic primary on Feb. 3, 2024, with New Hampshire, Nevada and Georgia set to follow. However, party officials could still shuffle the voting order.

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Maya Lockett is a reporter at News13. Maya is from Los Angeles. She joined the News13 team in November 2021. She graduated from Syracuse University. Follow Maya on Twitter and read more of her work here.