Trump Chose to Compete in Nevada GOP Caucuses, Not Primary, Contrary to Online Claims

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Quick Take

Former President Donald Trump is competing in Nevada’s Republican presidential caucuses but not the state-run primary election. Nevada’s delegates are awarded based on the results of caucuses, not the primary election. Social media posts falsely claim Trump “forgot to file” or “election interference” prevented his name from appearing on the primary ballot.


Full Story

From 1984 to 2020, Nevada used a system of closed caucuses all but once to award delegates for the presidential nominating conventions. In caucuses, voters at local gatherings determine which presidential candidates to support from their party and select delegates to the national conventions. Since 2008, Nevada has been one of the earliest states on the presidential nominating calendar.

But in an effort to move Nevada further ahead in that schedule, the state passed a law in 2021 that requires a statewide presidential primary election to “be held for each major political party on the first Tuesday in February of each presidential election year.” At the time of the law’s passage, Nevada was scheduled to be the first presidential primary in 2024.

In response to Nevada’s law, Iowa and New Hampshire — historically the first states to hold caucuses or a primary election, respectively, in the presidential nominating cycle — moved their contests earlier to retain their first-in-the-nation status.

In the Republican race so far, former President Donald Trump has won a total of 32 delegates from Iowa and New Hampshire, and Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has won 17. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won nine delegates in Iowa before suspending his presidential campaign prior to the New Hampshire primary.

A Donald Trump supporter walks by a poster of Trump and a photo of former President Ronald Reagan outside a Commit to Caucus Rally in Las Vegas on Jan. 27. Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images.

However, the two Republican front-runners, Trump and Haley, will not face off in Nevada.

The Nevada Republican Party has decided that it will continue to use a system of caucuses, in which Trump will participate, to elect its delegates for the Republican National Convention. Despite this, Nevada is still required by law to hold a Republican primary election, and Haley has registered in that contest.

The Nevada primary elections will be held Feb. 6, and the Republican caucuses will be Feb. 8.

Due to the competing formats, the Nevada Republican Party has called the primary election “an illegitimate process.” Additionally, the Nevada Republican Central Committee announced that presidential candidates running in the state-run primary elections are ineligible to earn any of Nevada’s delegates at the Republican presidential nominating convention.

So only the party’s caucuses count toward a candidate’s delegate total for the Republican presidential nomination.

But posts on social media have used the existence of both the caucuses and a primary election to make unfounded claims about the Trump campaign and Nevada’s process.

A Jan. 17 Facebook post falsely claimed that “Trump will not be in the Nevada primary” because his team “forgot to file the paperwork.”

Another Facebook post, on Jan. 19, alleged that Trump’s “name is missing on official Nevada primary ballots. Just when you thought uniparty election interference couldn’t get worse, it does.”

But as we said, Trump’s absence from the Nevada primary ballot is not a result of his team not filing the requisite paperwork, nor is it the result of “election interference.”

A spokesperson for the Nevada secretary of state told us in a Jan. 30 email, “Only candidates who filed for the Presidential Preference Primary will appear on the ballot. Former President Trump did not file for the Presidential Preference Primary, and is instead participating in the party-run Republican caucus.” 

Trump’s participation in the Nevada caucuses, rather than the primary election, ensures he can receive delegate votes from Nevada at the Republican National Convention. His biggest challenger, Haley, is ineligible to receive state delegate votes because she is running in the primary, and Trump is expected to easily win the state’s 26 delegate votes.

Nevada is the only state that will hold both caucuses and a presidential preference primary for the same political party this year.


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

Federal Election Commission. “2024 PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY DATES AND CANDIDATE FILING DEADLINES FOR BALLOT ACCESS.” FEC.gov. Updated 15 Dec 2023.

Gore, D’Angelo. “Caucus vs. Primary.” FactCheck.org. Updated 3 Feb 2020.

Mizelle, Shawna and Allison Novelo. “Why the New Hampshire primary is first in the nation.” CBS News. 23 Jan 2024.

Nevada Legislature. AB126. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

Nevada Republican Party. Press release. “Nevada Republicans Will Conduct First in The West Caucus on February 8, 2024, With Voter ID, Paper Ballots, And Results Released the Same Night.” Nevadagop.org. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

Nevada Republican Party. 2024 Presidential Caucus. Nevadagop.org. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

Nevada Secretary of State. Email from spokesperson to FactCheck.org. 30 Jan 2024.

Nevada Secretary of State. “Nevada Primary And Caucus History.” Nvsos.gov. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

Nevada Secretary of State. 2024 Election Information. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

Nevada Secretary of State. 2024 Presidential Preference Primary Candidates. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

New York Times. Iowa Caucus Results 2024. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

New York Times. New Hampshire Republican Primary Election Results. Accessed 30 Jan 2024.

Peoples, Steve, Thomas Beaumont and Holly Ramer. “DeSantis drops out of presidential race, leaving Trump and Haley to face off in New Hampshire.” Associated Press. 21 Jan 2024.

Pfannenstiel, Brianne. “When are the 2024 Iowa Caucuses? Here are the dates to know.” Des Moines Register. Updated 10 Jan 2024.

Price, Michelle L. “Governor signs law giving Nevada 1st presidential primary.” Associated Press. 11 Jun 2021.

Steinhauser, Paul. “Past Nevada caucus winners.” Fox News. 21 Feb 2020.

Stern, Gabe. “A thinned-out primary and friendly voting structure clear an easy path for Trump in Nevada.” Associated Press. 30 Jan 2024.

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