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Nikki Haley Trounced in Nevada by ‘None of the Above’

Photo: ALLISON JOYCE/AFP via Getty Images

No delegates were at stake and Nikki Haley’s nemesis, Donald Trump, wasn’t on the ballot. Turnout was as light as you might expect given the state Republican Party’s sponsorship of caucuses just two days later. And Haley didn’t campaign or run ads.

Still, it wasn’t a good sign for the last remaining challenger to the 45th president that she got absolutely trounced by the “none of these candidates” ballot line in yesterday’s Nevada primary. The “nah” vote was 63 percent to Haley’s 31 percent with most of the ballots counted on Wednesday morning. Non-delegate-awarding primaries are often called “beauty contests.” If that’s what this was, Haley’s performance was plug-ugly. And it wasn’t just a matter of voters generally having a sour attitude: In the Democratic primary the same day, Joe Biden eased past “none of these candidates” by an 89 percent to 6 percent margin (though “nah” did beat Marianne Williamson handily).

The embarrassing Haley results were very much the product of Trump’s strength in the state. But her weakness in Nevada was compounded by party-activist annoyance at Haley for choosing to compete (with nobody, as it turned out) in the primary created by the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature instead of the caucuses the GOP set up on grounds that a primary would be vulnerable to “fraud” (reflecting in turn the MAGA tendency to mistrust actual voting). Republican governor Joe Lombardo led the way in announcing he would vote for “none of these candidates” in the primary before caucusing for Trump later this week. It became the cool thing to do for Nevada Republicans.

Team Haley, of course, downplayed the results with a gambling metaphor, as one does:

“Even Donald Trump knows that when you play penny slots the house wins,” the Haley campaign said in a statement. “We didn’t bother to play a game rigged for Trump. We’re full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond.”

For his part, Trump mocked Haley’s bad showing with an allusion to her upbeat speech after finishing a respectable second in New Hampshire. He wrote on Truth Social, “Watch, she’ll soon claim Victory!”

Actually, no one forced Haley to file as a candidate in the Nevada primary, which she did in lieu of competing in the caucuses that really were rigged — or at least wired — for Trump (the state GOP refused to let candidates who played in the primary win delegates in the caucuses, giving them a choice that Haley arguably got wrong). So while she didn’t invest much in Nevada, the results do take a bit of “steam” out of her claim that she’s somehow going to take the nomination away from the overwhelming front-runner beginning on February 24 in her own state of South Carolina, where Trump has been far ahead of her in every public poll. In the Palmetto State, which she governed for six years, Haley is presumably “the house,” and she’s bet everything against very high odds.


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