Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley suffered a symbolic loss in the Nevada Republican primary on Tuesday night, securing less than a third of the vote despite being the only candidate to appear on the ballot.
With 93 percent of the vote reported, Haley won approximately 31 percent of the 80,000 people who voted. More than double that number—63 percent—voted for “None of These Candidates,” and the remaining percentages were split between former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott—neither of whom is still running.
The loss for Haley, while embarrassing, is largely a symbolic one, as the Nevada Republican Party determines the winner of its delegates via a caucus system. The primary was held only to comply with the requirements of the Democrat-run Nevada legislature, which recently passed a law to mandate primaries for both parties.
The Haley campaign announced ahead of the primary that it would not spend “a dime nor an ounce of energy on Nevada,” accusing the state GOP of being “rigged for Trump.” The party had previously determined that any candidate who participated in the primary would be barred from the caucus and instated a $55,000 filing fee for the latter event.
“We made the decision early on that we were not going to pay $55,000 to a Trump entity … to participate in a process that was rigged for Trump,” Haley’s campaign manager Betsy Ankney said. Instead, Haley is focusing on South Carolina’s primary later this month, hoping to catch up to Trump in her home state.
After keeping her name on the primary ballot, Haley will be unable to participate in the caucus on Thursday.
“If your goal is to win the Republican nomination for president, you go where the delegates are,” said Trump campaign advisor Chris LaCivita. “It baffles me that Nikki Haley chose not to participate.”
Trump, who had declined to appear on the primary ballot, mocked Haley’s “bad night” and said he expects her to “claim victory” despite the loss.
The Nevada Caucuses will be held on Thursday, February 8th.