The former president was going to end the evening with more than 90 per cent of the vote, his highest margin of victory by far, thanks to his lone competitive rival Nikki Haley choosing to participate in a state-sanctioned primary on Tuesday which did not award any delegates. As a result, Mr Trump will leave the state with 26 more delegates to add to his total as he builds up his support for the Republican National Convention this summer.
Mr Trump’s lone challenger Thursday evening in Nevada was Ryan Binkley, a Texas-based preacher who is running on a conservative Christian-centric message. He was sitting at just nine votes when the race was called just after 8.00 pm local time.
The former president is now headed, like his only remaining real challenger, to South Carolina. The Palmetto State is set to be a showdown between Mr Trump and his onetime UN ambassador, who is desperate for a real victory against her opponent as she seeks to convince Republicans that the 2024 primary isn’t over. A defeat in her home state would certainly make that argument a lot harder to make.
Nevada’s split caucus-and-primary system in 2024 came about as the result of a battle between the state’s Republicans and Democrats over whether to shift the state away from a caucus system. The state legislature passed a law doing so which was signed by the governor, but after a court battle the Republicans decided to hold their own unsanctioned caucus and award the state’s delegates to the RNC to the victor of that contest.
Ms Haley declined to participate, calling the process “rigged” in Mr Trump’s favour. It also was a strategic choice, as the Haley campaign sees her home state and the states which make up the next contests on Super Tuesday, 5 March, as friendlier territory.
She continues to make the argument that Mr Trump’s significant legal issues will be overburdensome and render him unelectable and at a financial disadvantage to the incumbent president in the fall. But Republican voters have yet to signal that they agree or even care about those concerns, and have delivered Mr Trump victories in every nominating contest so far. On Tuesday, Ms Haley even lost to “none of these candidates” in the Nevada state-sanctioned primary where Donald Trump was not on the ballot.
Her campaign did manage to pull out a suprisingly competitive showing in New Hampshire, the second nominating contest, but even in the Granite State failed to come within 10 points of the frontrunner.
South Carolina’s Republicans will head to the polls on 24 February.
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