Nevada G.O.P. Sets February Caucus, Jumping Ahead of South Carolina

by Pelican Press
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Nevada Republicans confirmed on Monday that the state would jump the traditional line in the presidential nominating calendar by scheduling a caucus for Feb. 8, 2024.

For decades, in years with open presidential races, Nevadaā€™s Republicans voted after South Carolina. The decision to move ahead of South Carolinaā€™s Republican primary, set for Feb. 24 next year, was meant to raise Nevadaā€™s prominence in the political landscape, the party said in a statement.

But there was also another likely motive: to upstage a presidential primary scheduled for two days earlier, on Feb. 6. That primary, run by the state, is required by a law pushed through by Nevada Democrats in 2021. Republicans, who have tried to block the primary in court, say they will ignore the results and use the caucus to pick delegates to the Republican National Convention.

A primary, with secret ballots and easier voting, typically yields broader voter participation. The potential for dueling election dates the same week is likely to sow voter confusion.

Nevadaā€™s caucus will follow Iowaā€™s first-in-the-nation caucus on Jan. 15, and the New Hampshire primary, whose date is not yet fixed.

ā€œThe ā€˜first in the West caucusā€™ underscores Nevadaā€™s prominence as a key player in the presidential nomination process,ā€ the Nevada G.O.P. said in a statement on Monday.

While public polling of the presidential race in Nevada is scarce, national surveys this year show former President Donald J. Trump well ahead of his closest rival for the nomination, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. In Iowa, a recent New York Times/Siena College poll showed Mr. Trump with a large advantage over Mr. DeSantis and the rest of the field, but his statewide support there is smaller than his national dominance among Republicans.

The chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, Michael J. McDonald, was one of six people who signed certificates designating Nevadaā€™s electoral votes for Donald J. Trump in December 2020, even though Joseph R. Biden Jr. was certified as the winner of the state. He has also faced calls to resign after the party backed several losing election-denying candidates last year.

The Republicans are not alone in shaking up their calendars. The Democratic National Committee has radically reshaped its traditional nominating calendar for next year, designating South Carolina as the first primary and demoting Iowa and New Hampshire.

The move, endorsed by President Biden, was intended to more closely reflect the racial diversity of the party and the country. But New Hampshire, where state law requires it to hold the first primary, could cast a shadow over Democratsā€™ plans by holding, as expected, a late January primary, one in which Mr. Biden does not appear on the ballot.

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