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Why AP called the Nevada GOP caucuses for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has easily won Thursday’s Nevada caucuses, the second Republican presidential contest held in the state in just three days, but the only one that will have an official impact on the race for the GOP nomination.

The Associated Press declared Trump the winner at 11:06 p.m. ET based on an analysis of initial vote results showing him with an overwhelming lead in six locations throughout the state. At the time the race was called, nearly all of the ballots cast in the caucuses were for Trump, roughly 98% of the total vote.

Unlike other states, Nevada held two Republican presidential contests, both this week, following a dispute between state officials and the state GOP over how presidential nominating events should be run. In 2021, Nevada enacted a new law that moved away from the Iowa-style presidential caucuses the state had held for years in favor of a traditional, state-run primary. The Nevada Republican Party opposed the plan and opted to hold Thursday’s caucuses to allocate delegates, essentially disavowing the primary and rendering it meaningless. Although Republican voters were permitted to vote in both the non-binding primary as well as the binding caucuses, the party barred candidates running in the primary from also running in the caucuses, forcing them to choose one event over the other.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley chose to compete in Tuesday’s primary, where she was the only major active candidate on the ballot but still finished a distant second behind a ballot option called “None of these candidates.” Trump opted to compete in the caucuses. The caucus ballot did not provide a “None of these candidates” option, since the Nevada law requiring that does not apply to party-run events.

Trump’s only challenger in the caucuses was Ryan Binkley, a Texas businessman and pastor, who trailed far behind with 2% of the early statewide vote. Initial results showed that Binkley had nowhere near the level of support to pull off an upset.

Vote results show Trump vastly improving upon his decisive victory in the 2016 caucuses, when he faced a much more competitive field. That year, he received 46% of the caucus vote, nearly doubling the amount cast for his nearest competitor, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and carried 15 of the state’s 17 counties, including the state capital of Carson City, which functions as a county for election purposes. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz carried two small counties and finished a close third behind Rubio.

Trump will also win most, if not all, of the 26 delegates at stake. Nevada Republicans require candidates to receive only 3.9% of the statewide vote in order to qualify for a delegate. The AP will allocate the remaining delegates once additional votes are tabulated.

Robert Yoon, The Associated Press


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