LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The first presidential primary in Nevada in decades had low voter turnout on Tuesday, with Democrats already having a large number of ballots through early and mail-in voting, while the Republicans looked ahead to their caucuses on Thursday.
According to the Nevada secretary of state, only 3,800 Nevadans showed up at the polls in the first three hours of voting on Tuesday. President Joe Biden is facing little opposition in the Democratic race, and Republican front-runner Donald Trump isn’t even on the party’s ballot.
In the end, only about 125,000 Nevadans voted in the Democratic primary and 80,000 in the Republican primary, as estimated by NBC News. Nevada Republicans are set to hold separate caucuses on Thursday to determine delegates to the national convention. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley does appear on Tuesday’s primary election ballot, though some Republicans opted to vote for “None of These Candidates” to show their support for Trump.
Both parties had used caucuses to determine delegates in previous elections, but state lawmakers switched to a primary for 2024 after the Democratic National Committee adopted new rules discouraging caucuses and issued a revised calendar that unseated Iowa and New Hampshire from their traditional leadoff contests.
Low turnout was attributed to bad weather and competing interest from Las Vegas’ first Super Bowl on Sunday. Local media provided blanket coverage of the lead-up to the NFL’s signature event rather than the noncompetitive nominating contests.
Despite the low turnout on Tuesday, the Democrats highlighted strong early and mail-in balloting, noting that turnout among Democrats had nearly matched the total turnout in the highly competitive 2020 Democratic caucuses before Tuesday.
The combined early, mail, and in-person voting turnout in Nevada lags behind that of the New Hampshire primary, where even with Biden left off the ballot, the turnout of 125,811 in the Democratic primary was only slightly behind the 131,286 votes cast in South Carolina’s Democratic primary.
Nevada Democrats Executive Director Hilary Barrett said, “Nevada Dems and the Biden for Nevada team are working together to leverage the presidential preference primary to begin early engagement with the communities we know will make up our margin of victory.”
Overall, Nevada’s presidential primary drew light voter interest, with Democrats taking the lead in early and mail-in voting, while Republicans prepared for their caucuses on Thursday. Despite the low turnout, both parties are looking ahead to the general election battleground and continuing their efforts to engage with voters in the state.