Key insights from the Nevada and Virgin Islands caucuses

Former President Trump achieved victories in Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands this week, delivering simultaneous blows to fellow Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley as the race approaches her home state of South Carolina later this month.

In separate Silver State contests, Donald Trump emerged victorious in the party-run caucuses on Thursday. This came just two days after Haley’s loss in the state-run primary, which did not affect the allocation of delegates.

Trump secured a victory in the Virgin Islands’ caucuses, a triumph that many believed could have been achieved by Haley.

As we shift our attention towards South Carolina’s upcoming Republican primary on February 24th, let’s reflect on the important lessons we’ve learned from the recent days of the presidential nominating process.

Trump’s strength is underscored

Trump’s consecutive victories in the Virgin Islands and Nevada’s caucuses, along with Haley’s humiliating defeat in Nevada’s primary, highlight Trump’s commanding lead in the Republican race. It is now a head-to-head competition between Trump and Haley.

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“This has truly been an incredible day for me as your beloved President, for the Republican Party, and for the spirit of democracy!” Trump enthusiastically expressed on his Truth Social platform as the results poured in.

In the race for the Republican nomination, the former president was expected to secure victory in the Virgin Islands, with all four of its delegates, as well as the 26 delegates up for grabs in the Silver State. To secure the Republican nomination, he will need to reach a total of 1,215 delegates.

The Nevada GOP made a decision to only use the caucus results to allocate delegates for the party’s national convention. This decision has made Haley, who had chosen to participate in the primary, ineligible to receive any delegates.

Haley’s team criticized the caucuses, calling them “rigged,” and chose not to campaign in the state. Instead, they focused their efforts on South Carolina and looked ahead to the Super Tuesday states voting in March.

However, despite Haley’s strong fundraising numbers and determination to move forward, there are growing concerns about whether she has a viable path to the nomination. Trump’s early-state victories and substantial lead in the polls have only intensified these questions.

This week’s series of victories firmly dispels any doubts about the vulnerability of the former president’s campaign as we approach the upcoming first-in-the-South primary in the Palmetto State later this month.

In South Carolina, the latest polling averages from Decision Desk HQ/The Hill indicate that he is leading Haley by a margin of 32 points. It is predicted by strategists that Haley could face an embarrassing outcome in her own state if she fails to narrow this gap in the upcoming weeks.

Haley campaign on life support

Haley faced a humiliating loss in Nevada’s primary election, where she was the only active top candidate. Surprisingly, the option “none of these candidates” received more than double the support compared to Haley’s bid.

According to strategists, the loss serves as a warning sign of Trump’s lasting influence. However, Haley’s team has dismissed it as inconsequential.

“After the primary results came in, Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas expressed our commitment to moving forward in South Carolina and beyond, rather than engaging in a game that was rigged for Trump,” said Perez-Cubas in a statement to The Hill.

According to her campaign manager, they did not allocate any resources or effort to the Silver State, as primary candidates were unable to gain any delegates there.

Trump continued his winning streak over Haley by winning the Virgin Islands contest on Thursday. This victory prevented Haley from securing a positive headline before the Palmetto State primary. Many view this primary as Haley’s last opportunity to stay competitive and gain the momentum necessary to navigate the upcoming busy primary and caucus schedule in March.

The Haley campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding the results from Thursday night.

During an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Haley was posed with a question about her achievements. Hannity asked her, “Don’t you, at some point, as an ambassador or governor, have to win something?”

“We saw a significant increase of 25 points in New Hampshire during the final three weeks. And we’re confident that we will see a similar upward trend in South Carolina. We don’t believe in coronations, Sean. We have three states already under our belt,” stated Haley.

Biden troubles overshadow Nevada victory

Biden emerged as the victor in the Democratic primary in Nevada on Tuesday, although it went relatively unnoticed by many.

Later in the week, any momentum he had quickly faded when a 388-page report was released on Thursday. The report found that he had knowingly kept classified documents in his possession.

Special counsel Robert Hur has concluded a yearlong investigation into the origins of classified documents from Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president. The investigation focused on how these documents ended up in an old office space and at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.

The assessment did not recommend any charges against Biden, but it did critique the president’s memory and recall, which raised concerns about his age.

According to Hur, it is important to consider that Mr. Biden would likely portray himself to a jury, just as he did during their interview, as an empathetic and well-intentioned elderly man with a weak memory.

Biden found himself in a tense press conference as the results started pouring in for the Nevada GOP caucus. He took the opportunity to defend himself and address the growing concerns.

“I have a perfectly fine memory. Just take a look at all the accomplishments I’ve made since I became president. Can you believe that? It’s almost like I just conveniently forgot what was going on,” he sarcastically remarked.

But Hur’s comments were quickly seized upon by his presidential rivals as ammunition for their campaigns. The pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., also chimed in, using the report to support Haley’s criticism of both parties. She argued that the party that removes their 80-year-old candidate would ultimately be the one to come out victorious.

Trump set to meet turnout expectations in Nevada

According to Decision Desk HQ, approximately 37,000 people had turned out for Trump in the GOP caucuses, with 63 percent reporting.

In the primary, Haley drew a crowd of 23,000, but it was overshadowed by the “none of these candidates” option, which garnered approximately 48,000 votes.

According to projections from The Associated Press, Trump is set to surpass the “none” option in the latest numbers. In fact, he is expected to receive the support of almost 60,000 people in the caucuses.

Nevada’s Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony (R) took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to express his observations about the caucuses, stating that he witnessed a “massive turnout.” Trump, in his remarks after the race was called, also asserted that record numbers were seen. However, the state party has not yet confirmed this claim.

Approximately 115,000 voters turned out to support Biden in the primary, representing the other side of the aisle.

Biden-Trump rematch all but certain

Any lingering doubts about the possibility of a Trump-Biden rematch in the 2024 presidential race were likely put to rest this week.

For years, both the current and former presidents have held prominent positions within their respective parties. However, there has been speculation about whether Republicans would truly embrace an alternative to Trump.

Observers are doubtful that the former United Nations ambassador, Haley, can surpass Trump, considering his significant lead in both South Carolina and national polling. Similarly, Biden’s strong performance against his Democratic rivals suggests that the general election is likely to mirror their 2020 contest.

Biden’s campaign wasted no time after the New Hampshire primary to declare that Trump had practically secured the GOP nomination. They framed the upcoming race as a showdown between the 45th and 46th presidents. On Thursday, Biden’s team criticized Trump’s performance in Nevada and set their sights on the general election.

According to Alex Floyd, the rapid response director of the Democratic National Committee, even though Donald Trump and his supporters may succeed in manipulating a caucus in his favor at the moment, they won’t be able to avoid the fact that Trump will face defeat in Nevada for the third time during the upcoming November elections. Floyd believes that voters will once again reject Trump’s MAGA extremism.

Trump is currently campaigning despite facing numerous legal challenges that could potentially hinder his bid for re-election. He is confronted with a staggering 91 criminal charges spread across various state and federal criminal indictments, along with multiple lawsuits. These legal issues have the potential to impact important contests in the 2024 calendar.

Speculation has arisen regarding Haley’s decision to continue with her bid, as some believe that she is doing so in case Trump’s legal battles require him to divert his attention from the campaign trail.

Biden, on the other hand, is currently on the campaign trail while facing persistent concerns about his age and health. If elected, Biden would be 86 years old by the end of a potential second term. Trump, on the other hand, is slightly younger at 77 years old.

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