Nikki Haley was projected to lose Nevada’s state-run Republican presidential preference primary, according to Decision Desk HQ, a stunning development that comes despite former President Trump’s name not being on the ballot.
Voters were given a choice on the ballot to select a box that said “none of these candidates,” though they couldn’t write in a name. That option was projected to win.
The former South Carolina governor was projected to come in second.
No delegates were at stake in Tuesday’s primary. Trump’s name wasn’t on the ballot because he will be taking part in Nevada’s GOP-run caucus on Thursday instead. The caucus will award all of the state’s 26 delegates to the winner, who is expected to be the former president.
Still, the fact that Haley lost is a major embarrassment for the candidate, who has argued she is the better general election candidate to square off against President Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, but who has struggled to chip away at Trump’s support among the Republican base.
A new state law required a presidential preference primary in Nevada, but the state GOP charged ahead with its long-standing caucus system anyway. After opting to take part in the primary, Haley was barred from participating in the caucus.
“Your primary vote doesn’t mean anything. It’s your caucus vote,” Trump told supporters in Las Vegas last month.
The primary-caucus clash has stoked confusion in the Silver State. Though candidates couldn’t participate in both events, election officials have said that registered Republicans can vote in both.
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) told the Nevada Independent before the votes that he planned to cast a ballot in both races, siding with Trump in the caucuses and voting for the “none” option in the primary.
The “none” option is required on the state-run ballots.
Trump won both Iowa and New Hampshire last month, and he’s polling well ahead of Haley in South Carolina, Haley’s home state and the next state to vote in the Republican lineup with its GOP primary on Feb. 24.
Biden was projected to win Nevada’s Democratic primary, which will award delegates, earlier on Tuesday night.
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