What to watch for in today’s Nevada Republican Presidential Caucus

In a contest with no competition, Donald Trump wins Nevada’s 26 delegates

In the least surprising political development of the year, Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the Nevada caucuses and took all 26 of the Silver State’s convention delegates.

Trump’s supporters in Nevada organized the caucuses, despite a new state law requiring the parties to hold presidential primaries. Nevada’s GOP responded by holding a non-binding primary and keeping its caucuses. That was a benefit to Trump, given his support among the state’s Republican leadership.

Trump won 99% of the votes cast — just over 59,500 statewide. His lone opponent, Texas pastor Ryan Binkley, has mounted no significant campaign and garnered less than 1%.

In Tuesday’s Democratic Presidential Preference Primary, President Joe Biden got 112,400 votes, 89%.

Flexing their influence, many Trump Republicans used the Tuesday primary to cast ballots for “None of these candidates,” a category that carried more than 63% of the vote, well ahead of candidate Nikki Haley at just more than 30%.

− David Jackson/USA Today

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People participate in the Republican Caucus at Spanish Springs Elementary School

A huge crowd participates in the Nevada Republican Presidential Caucus at Spanish Springs Elementary School in Reno on Feb. 8, 2024.

After crowds depart, ballot sorting begins

Voting had ended at the Republican caucus site at Spanish Springs Elementary School site, and volunteers were getting ready to start sorting ballots.

One site volunteer estimated close to 4,000 people voted at the caucus site.

“We were running out of ballots,” said Ron Miranda, vice-chair of field operations. “We had people lining up out in the cold in the parking lot all the way down the street.”

At Hunsberger Elementary, caucus participants continued to stream in at 6:45 p.m.

“In the beginning it was a disaster, and then things smoothed out,” said Mike Agerton, 76, a volunteer with the Trump campaign. “It’s going quite well.”

Agerton was working the front door alongside Jaime Aranda, 65, and Steve Moraca, 64. Both said they preferred the caucus system to the primary. Aranda said voter ID was a big part of that.

“We have to show our driver’s license, we have to make sure we’re in there, and it’s marked.” Aranda said.

Moraca said the caucus’s true advantages are more visible in wide-open races when there’s opportunity for caucus-goers to discuss and debate.

“Way back when Romney and Santorum and all those guys were battling it out (in 2012), where I felt the benefit was in a larger group, and there’s actually more runners competing — then you got something to talk about,” he said. “This is in-and-out. People want to vote, get it done.”

Ricci Rodriguez-Elkins worked as a volunteer Thursday for the Trump campaign at the Dunn elementary school caucus site in Spanish Springs.It was one of her jobs to be the bouncer at the entrance door to keep people out after 7:30 PM when the official caucus time closed.Inside, there were still people winding down three hallways, waiting for the opportunity to vote.“It’s been a great night,” Rodriguez-Elkins said. “The turnout was way better than expected.“The expectation was that people would still be voting until about 9 p.m.

— Jason Hidalgo, Brett McGinness and Mark Robison

‘This is amazing’

Sparks voter Holly Cortez was quite happy with the turnout at Spanish Springs Elementary School for the Republican caucus.

Cortez was among several people that lined up around the street to vote on Thursday.

“During my first caucus, practically nobody showed up so this is amazing,” Cortez said.

Today was the second time that Cortez voted this week. She also took part in the Tuesday primary, which did not have former President Donald Trump on the list of candidates. The most recognizable candidate for the primary was Nikki Haley, who opted not to take part in the Republican caucus.

“I did vote in the primary for ‘none of the above,’” Cortez said. “Nikki Haley lost to ‘none of the above’ so what does that tell you?”

Cortez also is not a fan of President Joe Biden and the current administration’s policies. Instead, she plans to vote for Trump.

While Trump can be controversial, Cortez says his policies are more in line with her preferences.

“I don’t care if he’s not my best friend, I don’t care about his verbiage,” Cortez said.

“What I do care about is results and Trump produces results.”

Randy Champion of Sparks loves the caucus system.

The California transplant praised the system as he stood in line outside Spanish Springs Elementary School.

“It’s my first time,” Champion said. “I just moved here so it’s a new system to me and one I’m embracing over the old system.”

California uses a primary system.

Nevada also switched to a primary system for these elections. The Nevada Republican Party, however, decided to keep its caucus system after an unsuccessful legal challenge over the primary switch.

The result is a split system where Trump is running in the caucus while Nikki Haley ran in the primary. Only the votes in the caucus will count toward assigning Nevada’s delegates for the Republican Party.

Nick Riley, 43, also prefers the caucus process to primary voting. He said it didn’t matter to him that a Trump win seemed to be a foregone conclusion.

“I want them to know that Trump is going to win,” he said, “and he’s going to win big.”

Riley also voted in the Tuesday primary, for “none of the above.”

“I have kids,” he said. “I don’t want them to go off to war for (Haley). Trump being the one guy who didn’t start any wars — I’ll support him for the vote.”

Riley started out caucusing for Ron Paul in 2008, and has attended every Nevada GOP caucus since then. He said he appreciated the back-and-forth debate with neighbors. 

“You get to work with your own precinct,” he said. “You get to stand up for your guy. Back when I was going for Ron Paul, I got to sway precinct members to the good guys.”

— Jason Hidalgo and Brett McGinness

For Uber Eats driver, life was better under Trump

Robin Godfrey Twelker is a dedicated supporter of former President Trump who worked the caucus event at Corbett Elementary School in east Reno as a Trump Caucus Captain, a volunteer who encourages caucus-goers to vote for the GOP frontrunner.

Ever since Trump lost in 2020, Godfrey Twelker, an Uber Eats and DoorDash driver, has known she would vote for him again.

“My life was great, gas was good, food was cheap,” she said. “Now it’s costing us a fortune. “

Migration is another issue driving her out to vote.

“We have no idea who’s here.”

The crowds were thinning and Corbett site coordinator Denise Myer was finally able to catch a breath.

“It went really well,” said Myer.

Myer had estimated that her site would contend with about 1,500 voters on caucus day. The vote count won’t start until 8 p.m., but Myer thinks that estimate might hold true.

“I thought people wouldn’t turn out with only one person on the ballot,” Myer said. “People really surprised me.”

– Evan Haddad

Trump wins caucus in U.S. Virgin Islands

There’s another caucus Thursday, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

On social media, former President Donald Trump said, “Great news! As we are landing in Nevada, getting ready to go to Caucus, word just came that we overwhelmingly won the Virgin Islands Caucus, ALL Delegates, with almost 75% of the vote.”

Trump is expected to pick up all 26 Nevada delegates at Thursday’s caucus.

He currently has 36 delegates, and former South Carolina Nikki Haley has 17.

About 1,215 out of 2,429 total delegates are needed to secure the Republican party’s nomination for president.

Trump is scheduled to attend a watch party for Nevada caucus results at Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas.

— Mark Robison

A fan of ballot drop-off; Washington, not so much

Ferd F. Dahms is a big fan of being able to just drop off his ballot without caucusing.

Dahms, who beat the crowds by arriving early at Spanish Springs Elementary School, brandished a smile along with his cowboy hat while heading back to his car just as a long line was starting to form.

“It’s so quick,” the 75-year-old Dahms said. “I could not believe it.”

What Dahms is not a big fan of is Washington, D.C.

The disappointment was palpable in Dahms’ face when asked about the failed impeachment vote against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The vote failed on Tuesday after Democratic lawmaker Al Green, who was scheduled for surgery, made a surprise appearance in a wheelchair and hospital scrubs.

The symbolism was not lost on Dahms, who shared his thoughts about what needs to be done with Congress.

“They ought to do some major surgery and cut that whole system away,” Dahms said.

— Jason Hidalgo

Voter ID is important to Spanish Springs caucus-goer

John Covello said he came out to Dunn Elementary School in Spanish Springs to participate in the Nevada Presidential Republican caucus “because they asked for ID. That means a lot to me.”

He worries about cheating in elections.

“This just takes that out of it,” he said. “And the other reason I’m here is because Trump’s on this ballot.”

Long wait not dampening enthusiasm

The long lines at sites around the area continue to grow. Former Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler got to the front of the line at Swope Middle School an hour and a half wait. And there are still hundreds of people outside.

At Spanish Springs elementary, lines are backing up as the workers try to get people registered and ballots handed out. Most voters are choosing to fill out their ballot and leave rather than stay for the caucus debate.

Over at Dunn Elementary, Edwin Dickson, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, was happy to wait.

“I came out to vote today because I believe Donald Trump could turn this country around like it used to be,” he said.

He considers it his patriotic duty to vote in the caucus for Trump.

“If that’s all I gotta give is to stand in line to vote, I’ll do that for him,” Dickson said. 

How important is voting in the Republican caucus for Sparks resident Bonnie Allan?

“Important enough to stand in the cold,” Allan quipped.

For her first ever caucus, Allan brought some backup.

“We always tell the kids how important it is (to vote),” Allan said. “They’re our future.”

Allen went so far as to encourage everyone to vote, even if it’s for a candidate different from her choice.

“You can’t complain if you don’t vote,” Allan said.

Asked who she plans to vote for, Allan left no doubt about her preference.

“Absolutely, I’m going to vote for Trump out of everyone,” Allan said.

Allan says that she likes how Trump is not your typical politician.

Allan also voiced displeasure about attempts to take Trump off the ballot in Colorado.

“I don’t see how it could happen,” Allan said. “I think it’s unconstitutional.”

“It’s frustrating,” Allan said. “It’s just dirty politics.”

Although Allan is excited to attend her first caucus, she plans to just drop her vote and leave, which is being allowed by the Washoe County Republican Party this year. 

Allan is not the only one. Several other people also just dropped off their ballots and left without caucusing.

“We’ve got kids so it’s hard to get away,” Allan said.

— Mark Robison, Jason Hidalgo and Jason Bean

Cold, snow don’t dampen turnout

A phalanx of Trump supporters stood outside the caucus location at Brown Elementary school, decked out in white hats with gold lettering: “Team Trump Captain.”

The group was working to assist caucus-goers with the process, ensuring they were at the right location for their precinct.

“Do you guys have your ID?” Jann Hehn, 59, asked new arrivals. “OK, good, We’re just checking for when you get inside. You can cast your vote and you can leave, or you can stay and watch them count the ballots.”

Hehn said she was happy with the turnout.

“Amazing, I’m shocked. Even with the cold weather and the snow,” she said. “Iowa was really bad. This is warm compared to Iowa.”

Despite the crowd, Hehn said she would have liked to see more young voters at the caucus.

“I think there needs to be more on the social media platforms that these kids are accessing,” she said.

Hehn’s neighbor, 26-year-old Brody Singleton, agreed. He said the Republican Party needs to reach younger demographics by talking about issues important to them — affordable housing and the economy. He said by turning out, he hopes to inspire others to join the process as well.

“If a kid sees me doing this, it might encourage them to stand up,” he said.

Gary Johnson, 72, an Air Force and Coast Guard veteran and former law enforcement officer, was helping with security at the Brown Elementary School caucus site. Johnson is also a member of the Washoe County Republican Central Committee.

He moved from California a year and a half ago, and this would be his first caucus. He supported Trump in 2016 and 2020.

“So far, so good,” he told the RGJ. “Everybody seems to be pretty happy and peaceful.”

He said he was surprised that Nikki Haley lost to “none of these candidates” in Tuesday’s primary. 

“I thought she was going to win,” he said.

Johnson was keeping a close eye on the news earlier in the day that President Biden wouldn’t face criminal charges over classified documents found in his former Washington, D.C. office and Delaware home.

“Well, he wasn’t convicted of it,” Johnson said. “Why should Trump be convicted of basically the same thing?”

— Brett McGinness

Trump supporter: legal woes are just Democrats ‘grasping at straws’

A long line stretched out into the streets at Spanish Springs Elementary School late Thursday as a large number of people braved the cold to cast their ballot for the Republican caucus.

For Danielle Jeffers of Sparks, the driving force behind the turnout could be best summed up in two words.

Donald Trump.

“I’m a Trumper,” Jeffers proudly exclaimed. 

“I’ve always been a Trumper. I don’t want anyone else.”

Jeffers was all smiles as she showed up decked in Trump gear with her daughter Keira. Jeffers believes it’s important to have young people involved and informed about the political process that shapes the nation’s future.

“That’s why I brought her along for the ride,” Jeffers said.

Today’s event is also a first for Jeffers, who has not taken part in a caucus before. Jeffers says she has not decided whether to take part in the full caucus process, which would involve sitting in a room with other caucus goers to discuss the candidates. For this caucus, the Washoe County Republican Party is also allowing voters to just drop their ballots if they prefer.

Jeffers did not take part in the Tuesday primary, which did not have Trump on the ballot. If she did, however, Jeffers would have voted for “None of these candidates” instead of Nikki Haley.

Jeffers added that she likes Trump’s chances in the General Election.

“I think Biden is easy to beat,” Jeffers said.

Asked about Trump’s legal woes and efforts to remove Trump from the ballot in states such as Colorado, Jeffers did not hide her displeasure.

“I think it’s unconstitutional and ridiculous,” Jeffers said. “They’re grasping at straws.”

— Jason Hidalgo

Nevada caucus-goer’s all-time Top 3: Eisenhower, Reagan, Trump

David Berube, 74, said he would caucus for Trump at Brown Elementary School. He said he’s participated in every presidential caucus in the state since moving here from Massachusetts in 2007. 

He voted in Tuesday’s primary via mail-in ballot, and chose “None of these candidates.”

“I was born in 1950, and out of all the presidents in my lifetime, I’ve only liked three of them: General Eisenhower, Governor Reagan and Donald Trump. The rest of them, you can throw away.”

Dave Fitch, 84, didn’t participate in the primary. This would be his first caucus, he said. He didn’t participate in the 2016 Nevada GOP caucuses, which Trump won.

“I knew he was going to win then,” Fitch said. “I got a lot of flack on that.”

Across town at Swope Middle School in Sparks, Allen Best was ready for a second Trump term.

“I watched what Trump did and what he said for four years, and I thought we needed a change” back to that, Best said. “He basically followed up and did what he said he was going to do while he was in office.” “I moved my business here in 2001 from San Jose, and we get a Republican governor (Kenny Guinn) and Republican legislature and they voted in one of the largest tax increases in history. Both parties. I hate to use the word corrupt but I think that’s exactly what happened.”

“I was in business for 50 years, and when you forget the people who are working in business every day and making a living for you,” Best said. “That’s a problem.”

— Brett McGinness and Jim Krajewski

Northern Nevadans are coming out in droves to vote in the Republican caucus today.

Long lines are forming at caucus sites across the Truckee Meadows, including Spanish Springs, Katherine Dunn and Emma Sepulveda elementary schools in Sparks and O’Brien Middle School in the North Valleys.

At O’Brien Middle School, traffic is snaking past the bus drop-off lane and volunteers are trying to direct cars in the parking lot, and the wait for a parking spot is about 45 minutes. Traffic on U.S. 395 and Silver Lake Road was backed up a quarter-mile.

People of all ages are waiting to get inside at O’Brien. Despite the lines and traffic, there’s a festive air as people wearing Make America Great Again hats and Trump shirts look excited to cast their vote for former President Donald Trump.

Original story

Today is presidential caucus day for Nevada Republicans.

While former President Donald Trump is expected to easily trounce his sole competitor on the caucus ballot – Texas Pastor Ryan Binkley – there are still things to watch for:

  • Turnout: Overall turnout may hint at preferences for the caucus vs. the Presidential Preference Primary, which was held Tuesday and featured early voting and mail-in ballots. The two events caused confusion, and the Nevada Republican Party opted for the caucus as more in line with its values. Republicans in the primary overwhelmingly – 87% – opted for mail-in ballots, something not allowed in the caucus.
  • Comparison to Haley votes: If Trump racks up fewer caucus votes than his main rival – Nikki Haley – got in Tuesday’s primary, that could generate momentum for the former U.N. ambassador. Based on preliminary results with 94% of Republican primary ballots tallied, Haley received 21,256 votes statewide.
  • Comparison to Biden votes: President Joe Biden received about 99,000 votes, based on about 95% of ballots having been counted from Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Bragging rights will go to whichever presidential frontrunner receives the most.

More: Washoe County caucus locations: Where to vote in the Republican caucus in Reno and Sparks

How to caucus in Nevada 2024

Not sure how to caucus or a bit rusty on the details? It’s not hard, although there are a few things you’ll need to know – plus keep reading for answers to common questions.

Caucus steps:

  • Go to caucus location: Your caucus location is based on your precinct number, and your precinct number is based on your address. To learn your precinct location, visit nevadacaucus.gop. Put in your name, address, email and mobile number, and your caucus location will be sent to you. Or you can look up your precinct number a spreadsheet with all caucus locations at nevadagop.org.
  • Arrive between 5 and 7:30 p.m.: Voting will be allowed between 5 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday only.
  • Bring your ID: Show your ID, sign in, get your ballot and head to your specific precinct location within the main caucus site.
  • Vote: You can mark your ballot, submit it and leave.
  • Optional – stick around: You can stay to speak in favor of a candidate or to participate in precinct business such as picking delegates and electing precinct caucus chair.

When to expect caucus results

The timing is not certain, but caucus results are expected Thursday night.

They will be hand-counted at the precinct level. From there, totals will make their way to the Nevada Republican Party, which will post results.

Watch for caucus results on RGJ.com.

Can you vote in Nevada caucus if you voted in primary?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to vote in both the caucus and the Presidential Preference Primary.

They are separate elections with separate candidates. The caucus is run by the Nevada Republican Party, and the Presidential Preference Primary was run by the state of Nevada.

Are write-in candidates allowed in Nevada caucus?

No, the Nevada Republican Party says write-in candidates are not allowed in its caucus.

Your only choices will be Trump or Binkley.

Can you vote in the Nevada caucus if you can’t go in person?

In general, no, you have to vote in person in the Nevada Republican Presidential Caucus.

The Nevada Republican Party confirmed that the only exceptions to voting in person are overseas military and those covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In those cases, a person should contact their county party for details on how to cast a caucus vote.

Why isn’t Nikki Haley on the Nevada caucus ballot?

The Democrat-dominated Nevada Legislature passed a law in 2021 requiring the Secretary of State’s office to run a presidential primary.

It came after calculation issues in the 2020 Democratic caucus where delegates weren’t allocated correctly, as well as a poll that showed Nevadans overwhelmingly preferred a primary over a caucus for selecting a presidential nominee.

In that Nevada Public Opinion Pulse poll conducted in 2021 by OH Predictive Insights, Republican respondents favored a primary more strongly than Democrats and independents.

At this point, Nevada’s two major political parties were given the option of using the state-run primary to inform their decisions on presidential picks, at taxpayer expense, or they could take on the expense themselves of running a caucus.

The Nevada Republican Party chose to keep with a caucus because, it said, it liked the ability to require voter ID, in-person voting on a specific day, and hand-counting results.

It also made rules that only caucus participants could receive delegates toward nominating a presidential candidate and that anyone who signed up for the presidential primary would be ineligible for the caucus.

Trump opted to participate in the caucus.

Haley said she believed the caucus was “rigged” toward Trump so she signed up the primary, even though its results would only be symbolic. She did not campaign in Nevada, and her campaign says it spent no money here.

Mark Robison is the state politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal, with occasional forays into other topics. Email comments to mrobison@rgj.com or comment on Mark’s Greater Reno Facebook page.


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