Another notable consequence is that states with smaller populations would no longer be at the front of the line, as the four states that look the most like the national Democratic Party rank among the 11 most populous states. The first four states in the current system — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — are all relatively small or in the middle of the pack in terms of population. One argument for having small states kick off the process is that they allow a greater emphasis on retail politics as opposed to the expensive ad campaigns required to reach big swaths of voters in major media markets. Because it’s fundamentally harder to meet face-to-face with any measurable percentage of voters in, say, Illinois (population 12.7 million) than in Iowa (population 3.2 million), this new primary calendar would increase the importance of costly media exposure, which would probably benefit candidates who can raise a lot of money early on.
Putting more populous states first also means that a lot more delegates would be up for grabs sooner. While the four states actually leading off in 2020 collectively have around 150 convention delegates who will be pledged to candidates according to how they do in those states’ primaries and caucuses, the first four states in this hypothetical would have around 700 such delegates available out of close to 4,000 total pledged delegates.6 But it’s hard to say whether this would slow or quicken the nomination process.