DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s first in the nation status for presidential elections could be slipping away.

The Democratic National Committee’s by-laws committee approved major changes Wednesday and that could spell disaster for the Iowa Caucuses. Under the plan, states would have to apply to hold their nominating contest prior to the first Tuesday in March. The Democratic Party would then select the first five states out of those that apply.

The DNC says selected states will be determined by the state’s diversity, their competitiveness in the general election, and a state’s ability to hold its nominating contest early.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn said he is not giving up hope the state can retain its pole position in 2024. In a statement, he said in part:

“Iowa will absolutely be applying to be in the early window and we will look forward to enthusiastically making our case…It’s critical that Iowa continue to have a voice in the Presidential nominating process so that candidates can meaningfully connect with a grassroots infrastructure that includes working families and a diversifying rural America.”

Ross Wilburn, Iowa Democratic Party Chair

Drake University political science professor Rachel Paine Caufield has spent the past 15 years researching and examining the Iowa caucuses. She criticized the DNC’s decision, and said it could be short-sighted to remove a long-standing tradition in favor of a battle between states for early slots.

“The process by which a group of states agrees to let another state go first is just inherently really messy with the states competing against each other,” Paine Caufield said. “I always assumed it would be messy enough for the party to avoid it.”

While the DNC has opened up its early slots, the Republican National Committee affirmed it will keep the Iowa caucus at the top of its schedule.

Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann hopes Democrats can return to the front of the line alongside his party.

“Iowa Republicans are going to go first, and I want Iowa Democrats to go first,” Kaufmann said in a press call Thursday afternoon. “Even if there’s a political advantage in saying they tossed Iowa overboard, I don’t want to be able to say that. I think the state is stronger if we go together, and I think the process will be stronger.”