Why Both Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Could Win in Nevada
He said, “For those of you who don’t like the caucus, just come figure it out, volunteer.”
Trump held a rally in Las Vegas, one of the few reminders that the GOP nominating process still runs through Nevada at all. Trump told his supporters, “Don’t worry about the primary, just do the caucus thing.”
The primary, he said, “doesn’t mean anything.”
Turnout for the caucus is
expected to be low. And prospects for the state-run primary aren’t great, either.
But Trump is right that the caucus is the one that matters. And the result is a fairly sure bet.
In the state-run primary, it’s not as clear. The prevailing view among Republicans in Nevada is simply that Haley probably will win that race, though earning no delegates from it. It’s not out of the question that voters who take part in a ballot that they know won’t matter in terms of delegates could use the election as a protest vote, meaning Haley could lose to “None of These Candidates.”
That happened in a state gubernatorial primary
on the Democratic side in 2014. And it’s how the state’s Republican governor, Joe Lombardo, plans to vote this year. Lombardo previously criticized his party for prohibiting candidates who participate in the primary from also running in the caucus, calling it “
unacceptable for the voters and the understanding of how things should be done.” But this month,
he told The Nevada Independent he plans to caucus for Trump and vote in the primary for “none of the above.”
That goes for the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, Stavros Anthony, too. In
a statement, he called it a “show primary” and encouraged “all voters to do the same” as him.
When I asked David Gibbs, whose term as president of the Nevada Republican Club ended in December, about Haley’s prospects, he said, “She’s probably going to win.”
But if she doesn’t, he said, “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
Trump probably didn’t need Nevada Republicans to do anything for him. In states where establishment Republicans worked against him — as in Iowa, where the Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, campaigned for Ron DeSantis, or New Hampshire, where the Republican governor, Chris Sununu, campaigned for Haley — it didn’t keep him from piling up big wins.
The fact is that he’s running away with the nomination because enough Republican voters want him to be president again. In some polls, even before DeSantis dropped out,
Trump was leading by more than 50 or 60 percentage points in Nevada.
Before I left the state, I drove to a restaurant in Henderson to meet with Stephen Silberkraus, a former Nevada Republican assemblymember and former vice chair of the Clark County GOP. He’d been ousted from his party leadership position in the hard-line group’s takeover, and I wanted to ask about the caucuses and Trump.