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Donald Trump wins Nevada's contests to be the Republican nominee for president

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Nevada's presidential primaries and caucuses ended last night with a big win for Donald Trump. Given his campaign's influence on the state Republican Party's caucuses, the victory came as no surprise, and with the counting nearly done, Trump had 25 of the state's 26 delegates. Joining us now as NPR's Ashley Lopez, who's been in Las Vegas covering all of this week's contests. Hey, Ashley.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: Hey, there.

FADEL: So since Trump was the only major presidential candidate competing in the caucuses, he was obviously going to win. So what should we take away from this?

LOPEZ: This is, like, another display of just how uncompetitive this presidential primary really is right now.

FADEL: Yeah.

LOPEZ: Trump has now won contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, plus, I should say, the Virgin Islands. He's won four delegates there because they also had an election yesterday that Trump won. Earlier in the week, the last major candidate running against him, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, was on Nevada state-run primary ballot, and she lost to the none-of-the-above option on the ballot. In fact, this is something that Trump poked fun of during his victory event in Las Vegas last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: None of the above.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: So I'd like to congratulate none of the above. I was one of those, none of ever aboves (ph). I was one of them. No, I saw - I watched that last night, and they won by 44 points, none of the above.

LOPEZ: Yeah, I actually talked to some Republicans who showed up to vote in the primary on Tuesday, you know, expecting to vote for Trump. And they told me they voted for that none-of-these-candidates options. I think everything that happened in Nevada was a pretty clear display of just how, like, disinterested many Republican voters are in an alternative to Trump at this point.

FADEL: OK, so as you mentioned, there are two Republican presidential contests in Nevada this week, which seems confusing. What did voters make of that?

LOPEZ: Yeah, so there were two GOP contests because the state's Republican Party didn't like some recent changes made to Nevada's election laws. So they decided to hold a caucus of their own so they could just have more control of the process. I spent some time outside a caucus site at a community center near downtown Las Vegas, and there really weren't a lot of people who attended the caucus. But of the folks I talked to, they were all Trump supporters. Many told me they were pretty plugged in to what was going on, and they knew that they wanted to vote for Trump. They had to vote on Thursday and not earlier in the week. But they did say they didn't find that whole thing, like, just really confusing. One woman I talked to, Rita Fruits (ph), said she was excited to vote for Trump in the caucus, but it just, like, was not easy for her to figure out how to do that.

RITA FRUITS: You know, I had to look it up and do my research because there wasn't - I didn't get anything in the mail or notification, so...

LOPEZ: State election officials told me that whenever voters had any questions about the caucus, they really couldn't answer them. All they could really do is direct them to the party's website. But ultimately, every Trump supporter I talked to said they didn't mind having to figure this all out in order to vote for him. They were just really excited to vote for Trump.

FADEL: There are other primaries ahead. What do we expect next?

LOPEZ: Yeah, well, there are two more Republican primaries just this month, right? There is the closely watched primary election in South Carolina, which is Nikki Haley's home state. Trump obviously has a lot of momentum now coming into this contest, but he's also had a sizable lead in the state for a while now. Even though Haley was elected governor of the state a few years ago, she just hasn't been able to close in on Trump there. And while her campaign mostly blew off Nevada, they have really set their sights on South Carolina, so in many ways, a loss for Haley in South Carolina would be a much bigger blow. And the Republican primary there is coming up on February 24. Michigan's primary election follows on the 27, and Republicans there also plan to hold a caucus on March 2, through which most of the party's delegates will be awarded. And Trump also has a big lead in the polls there, too.

FADEL: That's NPR's Ashley Lopez. Thank you, Ashley.

LOPEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Ashley Lopez
Ashley Lopez is a political correspondent for NPR based in Austin, Texas. She joined NPR in May 2022. Prior to NPR, Lopez spent more than six years as a health care and politics reporter for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Before that, she was a political reporter for NPR Member stations in Florida and Kentucky. Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Miami, Florida.
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