Nevada Primary Becomes Unequivocal Rejection Of Nikki Haley

On Tuesday, the Nevada Republican primary delivered a resounding message, not just to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley but to the entire GOP establishment. With President Donald Trump absent from the ballot because of new party rules, an impressive 63% of voters chose “None of These Candidates,” dwarfing Haley’s 31% share. While symbolic due to the state’s caucus system, the result speaks volumes about the feelings of Republican voters.

The decision by Haley’s campaign to disregard the Nevada GOP process, branding it “rigged for Trump,” was a strategic choice that did not pay dividends. Betsy Ankney, Haley’s campaign manager, stated, “Nevada is not and has never been our focus,” underscoring their deliberate sidestep of the state in favor of focusing on South Carolina’s primary.

However, this election resulted in Nevada casting a shadow on Haley’s broader campaign strategy. Notably, this was the first instance since 1975 where a candidate lost to “None of These Candidates” in Nevada’s Republican presidential primary. Haley’s spokesperson, Olivia Perez-Cubas, attempted to downplay the loss, equating participation in the Nevada primary to gambling in the state’s famed casinos.

President Trump seized on the results to underline his dominance in the GOP. In a post on Truth Social, Trump remarked, “A bad night for Nikki Haley. Losing by almost 30 points in Nevada to ‘None of These Candidates.’ Watch, she’ll soon claim victory!”

The Nevada GOP’s choice to stick with its traditional caucus system, in contrast to the state legislature’s push for a primary to increase participation, further complicated its political landscape. The party charges a $55,000 filing fee to participate in the causes, and its rules bar candidates from participating in both the primary and caucus. Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald and Washoe County Republican Party Chair Bruce Parks suggested that the overwhelming support for “None of These Candidates” was a direct response to Haley’s perceived disregard for Nevada voters.

As the campaign trail heats up, Haley’s next significant test will be in her home state of South Carolina, where she trails Trump by 31 percentage points, according to the current Real Clear Politics polling average.

The Nevada primary, though not influential in delegate terms, has symbolically set the stage for the ongoing battle within the GOP. It reflects a deep-seated loyalty to Trump among the party’s grassroots, challenging the prospects of any contender, including Haley, who seeks to offer an alternative to the former President’s America First platform.