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VICTOR JOECKS: How Trump can win Nevada in November

If Donald Trump wants to win the White House again, he should follow President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign strategy.

Trump will be in Las Vegas on Saturday. He’s holding a rally before the Nevada Republican caucus on Feb. 8. That’s where Republicans can vote for Trump. Trump is going to win the caucus, which won’t even include the option to vote for Nikki Haley. See my Sunday column to understand why he’s not on the primary ballot.

But he’s not just winning the Nevada caucus. Trump is effectively the GOP nominee. There are two main reasons for this. First, Republican voters feel deeply loyal to Trump. That’s in part because Trump had many policy successes. The Biden administration’s political persecution of Trump rallied many wavering GOP voters to his side.

The second reason is Haley. When the race started, GOP primary voters were roughly divided into three camps. Die-hard Trump supporters were 35 percent. Never Trumpers were 25 percent. Another 40 percent liked Trump’s policies but were open to another candidate who championed those ideas.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was the only candidate who could have effectively appealed to that third group. But he wasn’t going to win them all. He needed the more-liberal Never Trump group to put aside their policy differences and support him as a means to defeat Trump. Haley blew up that strategy by running to DeSantis’ left, especially on abortion and Ukraine. That’s why she did so well in New Hampshire. Around 50 percent of voters in the GOP primary self-identified as independents or Democrats. She still lost to Trump.

Haley played for second place. She succeeded in that, but her plan left her no chance of besting Trump.

Trump may be leading the general election polling now, but he shouldn’t be considered the runaway favorite. Both he and Biden have negative favorability ratings. The election results from 2018, 2020 and 2022 also show Democrats are strongly motivated to vote against Trump. The media is already shifting their fire from DeSantis to Trump. Plus, there’s the possibility the Biden administration will convict Trump before November. If Trump’s case in Washington, D.C., goes to trial, he’s all but certain to lose because liberals will dominate the jury pool. If that happens, lots of polling suggests his numbers will tank.

Trump needs to make this election about Biden’s job performance, which the American public agrees has been terrible. He should point out the failure on the border, how inflation and crime exploded and how Biden surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban.

Trump should replicate Biden’s basement campaign of 2020, re-emerging occasionally to ask, “Are you better off in 2019 or 2024?” He also needs to embrace ballot harvesting in places where it’s legal, such as Nevada. He narrowly lost Nevada in 2020. Those adjustments would help him here.

Here’s the paradox the attention-loving Trump faces. If he sacrifices some attention now, he probably will command the world’s attention as president. But the more he makes the election about himself, the less likely he is to win.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 7 a.m. with Kevin Wall on AM 670 KMZQ Right Talk. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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