LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Nevada recently hosted its first-in-the-West presidential nominating contest on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the 2024 election process. However, this year’s process has added new elements with two GOP events held this week – a primary and caucuses – creating a unique scenario where the leading Republican White House hopefuls won’t directly face off in the Silver State.
While the state held Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday, the GOP decided to also hold traditional caucuses, with Republican caucuses scheduled for Thursday in addition to Tuesday’s state-run primary. Notably, former President Donald Trump was not on the primary ballot on Tuesday and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is not on the ballot for Thursday’s caucuses.
The surprising result of the Nevada’s Republican primary on Tuesday saw CBS News projecting that Haley had come in second to the “none of these candidates” category, potentially dealing a major blow to her campaign.
A change to state law in 2021 by the majority-Democratic legislature transitioned the state from party-run caucuses to government-run primaries, amid a series of new voting initiatives geared towards improving voter access. In protest to this move, the Nevada Republican Party has opted to hold caucuses regardless, arguing that they are more secure and encourage candidates to connect with voters, while effectively barring anyone on the primary ballot from appearing on the caucus ballot.
As of Monday morning, over 59,000 Republican ballots had already been cast for the primary, with over 95,000 Democratic ballots being cast, the majority of which were from returned mail ballots.
CBS News projected President Biden to win the Democratic presidential primary in Nevada and defeat author Marianne Williamson, along with a list of lesser-known candidates. In contrast, the “none of these candidates” category was projected to win the most votes in the Republican presidential primary, with Nikki Haley finishing with the second-most votes.
Trump’s decision not to appear on the primary ballot, opting instead to appear on the GOP caucus ballot, raised questions and concerns about the process, potentially influencing the outcome of the primary. The move has also impacted the strategies of other Republican candidates seeking the nomination in Nevada.
Polls closed at 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday in the Nevada primaries. Republican voters can participate in both the GOP primary and caucuses. On Thursday, the GOP caucus hours are 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. local time.
Overall, the Nevada primaries and caucuses have introduced new dynamics and uncertainties to the Republican nomination process, reshaping the strategies and expectations of the candidates vying for the GOP nomination.