LAS VEGAS (AP) — Donald Trump is expected to sweep Nevada’s GOP caucuses on Thursday, which would give the former president a third straight win in the Republican presidential race and display his dominance over the Republican Party.
His last major Republican challenger, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, rejected the caucuses as rigged and decided to instead run in Tuesday’s purely symbolic GOP primary — where she was overwhelmingly beaten by the “none of these candidates” option chosen by Trump supporters and disaffected voters.
Republicans are increasingly converging behind Trump while he faces a deluge of legal problems, including 91 criminal charges in four separate cases. Trump is flexing his influence both in Congress — where Republicans rejected a border security deal after he pushed against it — and at the Republican National Committee, as chairwoman Ronna McDaniel could resign in the coming weeks after he publicly questioned whether she should stay in the job.
Trump still faces unprecedented jeopardy for a major candidate. A federal appeals panel ruled this week that Trump can face trial on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, rejecting his claims that he is immune from prosecution. And on Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case trying to keep Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.
But none of those developments seem to be hurting his standing among Republicans, including in Nevada.
Nevada’s GOP decided to bypass a primary election prescribed by the Legislature and instead hold caucuses to determine which candidate will receive its delegates, a decision Trump’s team supported.
The resulting system allowed the party more control over who participates and gave Trump a greater advantage than he already would have had, but it left some voters confused. The state GOP required candidates to choose running either in the caucuses or the primary.
Trump is the only major candidate left in the caucuses and expected to win all 26 of Nevada’s Republican delegates. He is in a strong position heading into March, when the Republican calendar ramps up, to collect the 1,215 delegates he needs to secure the nomination.
While Trump and Haley won’t have a showdown in Nevada on Thursday, they will compete in the Republican caucuses in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the hope of picking up the territory’s four delegates.
Caucuses require candidates to cultivate more grassroots support and spend resources organizing in order to ensure they get voters to show up at an appointed time and location in the evening to show their support. The system tends to benefit Trump, with his years of backing from the party base along with the years he and his team have spent cultivating local party members.
Trump visited Nevada last month and is expected to return to the state Thursday to celebrate his victory.
His campaign has said their early efforts are groundwork for when Nevada will be a political swing state in November.
“Nevada is a battleground state in the general election and everything that we do for the caucus and organizing now will pay dividends in the weeks ahead as we begin the general election against Joe Biden,” Trump’s senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita said.
Price reported from Washington and Stern from Reno, Nevada.
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