Trump wins Nevada, Virgin Islands: Rep nomination close

Tim Reid |

Donald Trump has romped to Republican caucus wins in Nevada and the US Virgin Islands.
Donald Trump has romped to Republican caucus wins in Nevada and the US Virgin Islands.

Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential nominating caucuses in Nevada and the Virgin Islands, moving him closer to a likely general election rematch with United States President Joe Biden.

Trump, the frontrunner in his party’s nominating race, was the only major candidate competing in Nevada’s caucuses and was set to win the state’s 26 delegates to the party’s nominating convention in July after being projected the winner on Thursday night by Edison Research.

Earlier, Trump easily won the US Virgin Islands caucuses, adding four to his delegate haul. The former president won 182 votes, or 74 per cent of the 246 votes cast there, beating his last remaining rival in the Republican race, Nikki Haley, who secured 64.

The Nevada caucuses, organised by the Trump-friendly Nevada Republican Party, came two days after a state-run primary election, which resulted in a humiliating defeat for Haley.

Donald Trump
It sure is. The Nevada Republican caucus was an easy win for Donald Trump. (AP PHOTO)

Despite being the only major candidate on Tuesday’s Republican primary ballot, Haley was still roundly defeated after tens of thousands of Trump supporters turned out to mark their ballots with “none of these candidates,” an option which garnered 63 per cent of the vote.

Trump spent Thursday morning watching coverage of arguments in a case he appealed to the Supreme Court concerning Colorado’s decision to remove him from this year’s ballot for engaging in “insurrection” relating to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

The justices appeared skeptical of Colorado’s actions, expressing concern about the precedent it could set.

Trump called the Colorado case “more election interference by the Democrats” and said he was preparing to leave his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida to travel to Nevada for the caucuses.

“We expect to have a very big night,” Trump told reporters.

Trump is close to winning the Republican nomination after back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire last month.

Haley, a former UN ambassador, is refusing to quit the nominating race, a move which has infuriated Trump. 

Haley is vowing to stay in the race and make a potential last stand in her home state of South Carolina, which holds a primary election on February 24.

But she has no clear path to the nomination and trails Trump badly in opinion polls in South Carolina, where she was governor for six years.

The competing Republican ballots in Nevada this week were the result of a conflict between the state Republican Party – run by Trump allies – and a 2021 state law that mandates a primary must be held.

Presidential nominating caucuses are run by state political parties, not the state, and the Nevada Republican Party decided to stick with a caucus on Thursday. It was viewed as more helpful to Trump because of his superior ground game in the western state.

Donald Trump
Republican voters in Las Vegas have come out in support of Donald Trump in the Nevada caucus. (AP PHOTO)

Haley chose to compete in Tuesday’s primary. Trump went for the caucus and the state party ruled that only candidates contesting Thursday’s caucus could compete for delegates.

Despite the results in Nevada having little impact on the Republican nominating contest, the state will be a hotly contested battleground because its population can swing to either party and play a significant role in November’s presidential election.

In 2020, Biden beat Trump in Nevada by 2.4 percentage points. Opinion polls show a likely rematch between Biden and Trump in the state will be close.

About 30 per cent of Nevada’s population is self-described as Latino or Hispanic and Republicans are making some inroads with these voters nationwide.

Nevada also has many potential swing voters. There are 768,000 registered as “nonpartisan,” more than those registered as either Democrat or Republican.