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Nevada voters to pick presidential candidate this week

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Casey Harper

(The Center Square) – Nevada voters will head to the polls this week for their state’s Republican presidential primary, and in an unusual twist, their caucuses.

Having both a primary and caucuses is unusual and is a result of an intrastate battle over which electoral system to embrace.

The state of Nevada will hold its primary Tuesday, where only former Ambassador Nikki Haley will be on the ballot. However, after a legal battle with the state of Nevada, the Nevada Republican party will not recognize the results of that primary and instead recognize the results of the Thursday caucuses. Haley chose to stay on the primary ballot, not the caucuses ballot, leaving Trump essentially the inevitable winner of the state's 26 delegates.

PROMO 64J1 Map - Nevada State Map - iStock - dk_photos

© iStock - dk_photos

The confusion comes after the state transitioned from the caucuses system to the primary system but Nevada Republicans rejected the effort, deciding to stick with the state's tradition of caucuses.

On the ballot or not, polling suggests it wouldn’t matter in Nevada, where former President Donald Trump holds a nearly 60-point lead, according to Real Clear Politics' polling average last updated in January.

Notably, there is a "none of the above" option on the Tuesday primary ballot, which risks Haley losing to that nameless category, a potential embarrassment for her campaign.

Haley is holding onto hope in the overall race, though, despite Trump’s lead and his recent victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

All of Trump’s other rivals have dropped out, most recently Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was once considered his greatest challenger.

Others have endorsed Trump, including DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and former billionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, who dropped out of the race after Iowa's caucuses.

PROMO 64J1 Politician - Donald Trump - FlickrCC - Gage Skidmore

U.S. President Donald Trump. FlickrCC - Gage Skidmore

Scott’s endorsement is a particular blow to Haley since she appointed him to the Senate seat when she was governor of the state in 2012. South Carolina is the next major primary state, with a vote scheduled for Feb. 24.

The latest polling shows that even in her home state, Haley is trailing far behind Trump.

Real Clear Politics’ polling average for South Carolina has Trump currently leading Haley with 53.7 percent compared to Haley’s 26.7 percent support.

Nationally, RCP’s average has Trump beating Haley with about 73 percent support against Haley’s 19 percent.

Haley, though, has seen a rise in polling since entering the race. If she can reach her more moderate audience, her campaign hopes to make this race more competitive.

On top of that, she could be the only remaining candidate in the race if Trump is somehow removed or loses a wave of support because of his many legal issues, most notably the nearly 100 criminal charges across multiple states.

"We’re not taking any vote for granted – we’re going to work every day to earn South Carolina's vote," Haley wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday. 

Many Republicans, though, say the race is over and have called for their fellow Republicans to focus on taking down President Joe Biden.

Biden will be on the primary ballot Tuesday, and no one candidate has arisen as the clear Democratic alternative to the president.

National polling and battleground state polling shows that Trump, the clear frontrunner at the moment, has a real chance of defeating Biden.

Biden, meanwhile, has challengers with maybe even less chance than Trump’s opponents.

RealClearPolitics’ polling average has Trump polling nationally at 46.6 percent to Biden’s 44.8 percent support. Trump’s margin over Biden expands in some key battleground states.

Trump leads Biden by seven points in Georgia, 48.7 percent to 41.5 percent; and leads Biden by about the same gap in Nevada, with 49 percent support to Biden’s 42 percent support.

Trump leads by about nearly five points in Arizona, 47 percent to Biden’s 42.5 percent support. In Michigan, Trump does a bit better, besting Biden’s 41.7 percent support with his own support of 46.8 percent according to Real Clear Politics’ polling average.

In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the two candidates are nearly tied.