As expected, Donald Trump won the Nevada caucuses on Thursday, while his fellow Republican Nikki Haley was not on the ballot.
The confusing way in which the Nevada election was played resulted in votes being split between two contests on two different days.
Nonetheless, Nevada Republicans made it clear that they want Trump to be their nominee against President Biden in the November general election, which is open to all voters.
Not only did Trump win the caucuses, but his supporters also recorded a strong protest vote against Haley in the primaries two days earlier.
In the primary – in which Trump was not on the ballot – Haley received about 23,000 votes, while the option of “none of these candidates” received more than 47,000 votes.
Nevada Republicans were able to participate in both the primary and caucus. Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo, a prominent Trump supporter, said he planned to vote against Haley in the primary and caucus for Trump. Apparently, many other Trump supporters did the same.
What happens next?
Trump remains the favorite to win the Republican nomination. Her victory in Nevada almost doubled her delegate count to 60, compared to Haley’s 17 delegates.
A total of 1,215 delegates are needed to formally clinch the nomination, but Trump could effectively do so in a matter of weeks. The next contest is the South Carolina primary on February 24, followed by Super Tuesday on March 5. A total of 15 states will hold primaries or caucuses that day.
If Trump wins heavily in South Carolina and Super Tuesday, Haley’s path to the nomination — already extremely narrow — will virtually disappear.
But if Trump somehow became undesirable to the Republican Party, or if he were legally declared ineligible to contest the election, the party would have to decide on an alternative. The more delegates Haley accumulates, the more likely he becomes the next person in line to be considered for nomination.
Why did Nevada do this?
The confusing situation in Nevada – with both the primaries and caucuses – stems from disagreements between Republicans and Democrats in that state. Democrats in the Nevada legislature passed a law in 2021 that shifted the state from a caucus to a primary system.
But Nevada Republicans did not want to use a primary, and last year the Nevada GOP insisted on using a caucus. He got his wish, but when the Nevada GOP also tried to cancel the state primary, state officials refused.
Members of Haley’s campaign downplayed the result, saying she “has not spent a dime or an ounce of energy on Nevada” as they look ahead to South Carolina, where she was governor from 2011 to 2017.