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VICTOR JOECKS: Four takeaways from Trump’s Nevada caucus win

The most confusing election in recent memory is finally over.

On Thursday, Nevada Republicans held a presidential caucus with Donald Trump and Ryan Binkley on the ballot. Although I’m writing this before any votes are cast, I can confidently say Trump won the caucus. He didn’t, however, win the presidential primary that Nevada held Tuesday. Regular readers know the backstory to this complicated arrangement.

Here are four takeaways.

1. Nevada penned Nikki Haley’s presidential obituary. Haley was the only active candidate on the primary ballot, but she couldn’t scrape together a majority. “None of these candidates” received almost two-thirds of the GOP vote. Even given her understandable efforts to avoid campaigning in Nevada, losing to no one was embarrassing. It’s a fitting epitaph for her current presidential ambitions.

2. Ballot laws influence turnout. Consider this half prediction/half analysis. As of this writing, President Joe Biden received more than 112,000 votes in the Democrat primary. He isn’t popular and ran basically unopposed. Trump isn’t receiving anywhere near 100,000 votes in the party-run caucus. I’ll be shocked if he tops the 47,000 votes “none” received in the Republican primary. There’s even the possibility that Trump receives fewer votes in the caucus than Haley did in the primary, a bit under 23,000.

That’s because it was easy to vote in the primary. Every Republican received a ballot in the mail. There was early voting and election day voting. To find their caucus location, Republican voters had to navigate three websites and had only one opportunity to vote.

To win Nevada, Trump doesn’t just need to be more popular than Biden. He must utilize the voting rules that exist, not the rules he wishes existed. That means encouraging early voting and mail voting in Nevada. Republicans will find it very difficult to win if they cede such a large voter-turnout advantage to Democrats.

3. The Nevada GOP embarrassed itself. As the third state on the Republican presidential calendar, Nevada should have been a hub of presidential activity. It wasn’t because campaigns rightly believed the state party was in the tank for Trump. This was a massive lost opportunity to identify and engage potential Republican voters, which is want Trump needs most come November.

Instead, the caucus was such a mess that Trump’s national team threw the Nevada GOP under the bus in an Axios article. Trump campaign sources said the Nevada and Clark County GOP “were not well-equipped to run the caucuses.”

4. Michael McDonald should be removed. There are clear parallels between RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald. Both have overseen several cycles of disappointing election results. But they maintained their jobs by doing Trump’s bidding.

Now, Trump appears to be pushing McDaniel out the door. That’s the right move. He should do the same thing to McDonald. Put Adam Laxalt or Gov. Joe Lombardo’s political team in charge.

Trump usually prioritizes people who kiss his backside. That led to Nevada’s caucus debacle. If Trump wants to maximize his chances of winning Nevada in November, he should prioritize competence.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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