Haley loses Republican Nevada primary to ‘none of these candidates’

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley suffered an embarrassing defeat in Nevada‘s primary on Tuesday, finishing behind ballots marked “none of these candidates” by supporters of Donald Trump, according to Edison Research.

Haley, the last remaining rival to frontrunner Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, was the only major Republican candidate contesting the party’s Nevada primary on Tuesday. Trump was not on the ballot.

U.S. President Joe Biden easily won Nevada‘s Democratic presidential primary after dominating his party’s first nominating contest in South Carolina on Saturday.

With more than 70% of votes counted, Biden had 90% support. Biden, as an incumbent president, faces little opposition within his own party to running for re-election in a likely

general election rematch with Trump in November.

Former President Trump will secure all of Nevada’s delegates in a separate caucus vote on Thursday, as he moves closer to clinching the nomination after back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Trump did not compete in Tuesday’s primary, which carried no weight in the Republican presidential nominating contest. Haley is not on the ballot in Thursday’s caucus.

Republican voters could mark their ballots “none of these candidates” in Tuesday’s primary, and Haley has infuriated Trump by refusing to drop out of the Republican nominating contest.

With over two-thirds of the Republican ballots counted, Haley had 32% of the votes, with “none of these candidates” at over 61% and the winner, according to Edison Research.

The rival Republican caucus on Thursday is being run by the Trump-friendly state party, and with only Trump on that ballot, he is almost certainly guaranteed victory and all of the state’s 26 delegates to the Republican National Convention in July, when the party formally nominates its candidate.

Voters can participate in both the Republican primary on Tuesday and the Republican caucus on Thursday.

Joe Lombardo, Nevada‘s Republican governor and a Trump supporter, had said he would vote “none of these candidates” on Tuesday and caucus for Trump on Thursday.

The competing Republican ballots are the result of a conflict between the state Republican Party – run by Trump allies – and a 2021 state law that mandates a primary must be held.

Presidential nominating caucuses are run by state political parties, not the state, and the Trump-friendly Nevada Republican Party decided to stick with a caucus on Feb. 8. In a visit to Nevada last week, Trump urged voters to ignore Tuesday’s primary and only vote in Thursday’s caucus.

Haley has vowed to stay in the Republican nominating race and on to a potential last stand in her home state of South Carolina on Feb. 24, but she has no clear path to the nomination. She trails Trump badly in South Carolina, according to opinion polls.

Biden campaigned in Nevada on Sunday and Monday. After his victory, he immediately set his sights on Trump, saying in a statement: “Donald Trump is trying to divide us, not unite us; drag us back to the past, not lead us to the future.”

Biden appeared on the ballot along with self-help author Marianne Williamson and other lesser-known Democratic challengers. U.S. Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota missed the filing deadline and won’t appear on the ballot.

Despite Tuesday’s results in Nevada having little impact on the nominating contests, the state will be a hotly contested battleground because its population can swing to either party and play a significant role in November’s presidential election.

In 2020, Biden beat Trump in Nevada by 2.4 percentage points. Opinion polls show a likely rematch between Biden and Trump in the state will be close.

About 30% of Nevada‘s population is self-described as Latino or Hispanic on the U.S. Census, and Republicans are making some inroads with these voters nationwide.

Nevada also has many potential swing voters: there are 768,000 registered as “non-partisan”, more than those registered as either Democrat or Republican, according to the latest state figures.

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