Nikki Haley suffered an embarrassing defeat to rival Donald Trump in the Nevada Republican Primary on Tuesday, even though he wasn’t on the ballot.
The former South Carolina Governor lost by almost 27 points to ‘none of these candidates’, an option given to voters in The Silver State in the first of two primary contests this week.
Haley didn’t campaign in the state due to her campaign saying the election was ‘rigged’ for the ex-president, who is on the ballot for Thursday’s caucus.
But the loss in the race where Trump didn’t even compete is a crushing blow for the former United Nations Ambassador who is still struggling to find a path to the GOP nomination.
The no-stakes primary on Tuesday night has no impact on the race for delegates, but voters made their voices heard with their symbolic pick for the Republican frontrunner.
The race was called at 9:01 p.m. PST, with 60.4 percent voting for no one and 33.2 percent selecting Haley, with about 50 percent of the vote reported.
‘A bad night for Nikki Haley. Losing by almost 30 points in Nevada to “None of These Candidates,”‘ remarked Trump on Truth Social Tuesday night. ‘Watch, she’ll soon claim Victory!’
On Thursday, the Nevada Republican Party will host a caucus where Trump is the only viable candidate – and is expected to walk away with all of the state’s delegates.
Former President Donald Trump walked away with a win in Tuesday’s Nevada Republican primary – and he didn’t even appear on the ballot
Trump gleefully posted on Truth Social that ‘none of these candidates’ – a symbolic win for him – beat out his chief rival Nikki Haley. Haley didn’t spend time campaigning in the state, due to the odd primary-caucus showdown between the state legislature and the state GOP
Republican voters DailyMail.com spoke to outside the polling place at the Sahara West Library (pictured) in Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon said they cast a vote for ‘none of these candidates’ – a symbolic vote for former President Donald Trump
It was clear Trump had an edge as DailyMail.com interviewed voters at polling places in Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon.
‘I don’t know why they don’t have Trump’s name on the ballot, it’s r****ded,’ a frustrated 63-year-old Robert Simonelli told DailyMail.com in front of his polling place, the Sahara West Library.
Simonelli, a construction superintendent, said that he wasn’t aware of the rift between Nevada’s state legislature and the Nevada Republican Party, which led to the odd dynamic of there being both a primary and a caucus held in the state this week.
Upon hearing that he could vote for ‘none of these candidates’ and still participate in the caucus and cast a ballot for Trump, he marched back into the library.
‘Well that’s what I’ll do then. I’ll just go right back in there and do it, right?’ he said.
Cheryl, 70, knew that she was able to support Trump in this way.
‘I voted for “none of these candidates,”‘ the retired conservative told DailyMail.com declining to give her last name as she exited the library.
She said she would caucus on Thursday as well.
Voters opted to select the option ‘none of these candidates’ over Trump’s only rival Haley, who didn’t campaign in the state due to her campaign saying the election was ‘rigged’ for the ex-president
DailyMail.com didn’t find any Republicans supporting Nikki Haley during a stop Tuesday at the Sahara West Library polling place in Las Vegas. Every Republican interviewed was supporting ‘none of these candidates,’ a symbolic vote for Trump
One Repubican voter DailyMail.com spoke to wasn’t aware that Trump’s name wouldn’t appear on the primary ballot, calling it ‘r****ded.’ That voter said he also planned to attend Thursday’s caucus, a race that will award Trump delegates toward the GOP nomination
‘Only one man that interests me and he was already president once,’ she said, hinting at who would win her support.
Another Trump supporter, who declined to be named except to say that he was 66 years old and previously was the vice president of Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, also said he cast a vote for ‘no one.’
‘I’m not anti-Nikki Haley, I just like Trump,’ he explained.
‘I’m Hispanic, I don’t look Hispanic but I am. The guy’s not perfect. I worked for the guy, he’s really a piece of s***,’ the former employee said. ‘But, he did a good job as president and this country was well organized, politically, financially, and our borders were secure.’
‘And I’m an immigrant, I wasn’t born in this country. But they have to do it the right way like I had to do it,’ he added.
The voter also acknowledged with a laugh that ‘no one in the casino business is a nice guy.’
He also said he planned to attend Thursday evening’s Republican caucus and would cast a ballot for Trump.
The kerfuffle over Nevada Republicans having both a primary and a caucus this year came about when the state legislature in 2021 passed a law to establish a primary and do away with the traditional caucuses, which limit turnout and have been subject to reporting errors.
‘Nevada is Trump Country’ reads a sign outside of the former president’s campaign event last weekend in Las Vegas. Trump won Tuesday’s Republican primary without being on the ballot as a majority of voters chose to vote for no one over rival Nikki Haley
Primaries are run by the states, where voters show up to polling places on specific dates – early or on Election Day – or participate by mail-in ballot, whereas caucuses are meetings where votes are cast at a specific time and are managed by political parties.
While Nevada’s new law was passed with bipartisan support, the Trump-aligned Nevada Republican Party objected to it, successfully suing the state to keep control of the delegates, which will be awarded to the caucus-winner.
A married couple who cast their ballots at a polling place at Victoria Fertitta Middle School on Tuesday afternoon told DailyMail.com that they were ‘p***ed’ and ‘confused’ with the voting structure this year.
‘It’s very confusing,’ said Lisa Johnson, 56, of Clark County. ‘I mean, I knew what to do, but for people who aren’t as involved, I don’t know how they would know what to do.’
Her husband Jay Johnson, 62, added: ‘Everyone was confused, at the beginning, and then I was sort of p***ed, in a way.’
Lisa is a Republican and said she cast her ballot for ‘no one’ and will caucus for Trump on Thursday, while her husband is a registered Democrat who cast his ballot for Democrat Marianne Williamson because he didn’t want to vote for President Biden.
‘She’s Republican, I’m registered Democrat,’ Johnson shared with DailyMail.com. ‘I don’t like Joe Biden. I think he’s feeble and weak, so I voted for Marianne Williamson… she’s a different voice. Does she have a chance? No. But Biden, he’s just too old. This is an anti-Joe Biden vote.’
‘And I’m going to vote for Trump,’ he said, pointing to the November general election.
As the Republican primary field took shape, the candidates were forced to choose between between participating in the primary or earning delegates via the caucus.
The state Republican Party forbid candidates who participated in the primary from having their names listed on the caucus ballot as well.
Haley – as well as failed 2024 hopefuls former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott – decided to participate in the primary.
She was the main Republican candidate listed on Tuesday’s primary ballot, though Trump supporters had the ‘none of the above’ option.
Nevada is a vital swing state in the November general election.
Nevada voters had the option to change their party registration when they arrived at the polls Tuesday.
Haley’s Campaign Manager Betsy Ankney made clear Monday that the former U.N. ambassador wasn’t playing ball in the state and thus the results should be taken with a grain of salt.
‘We have not spent a dime nor an ounce of energy on Nevada,’ Ankney told reporters. ‘We aren’t going to pay $55,000 to a Trump entity to participate in a process that is rigged for Trump. Nevada is not and has never been our focus.’
‘I’m truly not sure what the Trump team is up to out there but they seem pretty spun up about it,’ Ankney added.
Trump will hold a caucus results watch party in Las Vegas Thursday evening at the Treasure Island Resort & Casino, his campaign announced. Treasure Island is situated near Trump’s Las Vegas hotel property
Later Monday Trump’s spokesman Steven Cheung said that by Thursday’s Nevada caucuses Haley ‘will be a three-time loser walking a lonely path to her sweet state of South Carolina.’
Haley has made moves this week that indicate she plans to stay in the race beyond South Carolina’s February 24 primary, including planning an event in Los Angeles on Wednesday, with California voters heading to the polls on Super Tuesday, March 5.
She’s also asked for Secret Service protection.
On Thursday, between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Nevada Republicans will participate in their caucus.
Trump – along with failed candidates Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entreprenuer Vivek Ramaswamy – all decided to go the caucus route.
With DeSantis, Burgum, Christie and Ramaswamy having dropped out, just Trump and uber-longshot candidate Ryan Binkley will be on the ballot and be eligible to pick up Nevada’s 26 delegates.
While Trump already held one rally in the Silver State ahead of voting, the former president will return and address supporters at a caucus night watch party Thursday at the Treasure Island Resort & Casino, his campaign announced.