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Is There Really A Solid Anti-Trump Bloc Of GOP Voters?

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Nevada Republican caucus results:


12:12 a.m. -- Many analysts have suggested that as Trump's competitors drop out of the race, the anti-Trump vote will consolidate behind his leading opponent.

But interviews with Reno voters over the last week suggest it's a much more nuanced picture.

There are some voters who will not go for Trump no matter what.

"I don't think Donald Trump means what he says," Edward Bair told a table of caucus goers at his Reno High School precinct Tuesday night. "I wouldn't trust him to be dogcatcher. I agree with what he says. But I don't trust that he'll turn on us and we'll end up with -- at best -- (a) middle of the road, vanilla type compromiser - and that'll do us no good. "

But there are other Nevada Republicans for whom Trump is their second choice -- and either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz is the unacceptable candidate, not Donald Trump.

"I don't think Rubio's a conservative," 33-year-old tech worker Robert Hemenway said Monday before watching Cruz speak at the Reno Boys and Girls Club. "I honestly think he's a big liar. And the more I hear out of his mouth, the more I just don't trust him."

Hemenway, who says Cruz would return the country to "a conservative path," says Trump is his second choice.

Trump is also the second choice of Tim Koewler, a 68-year-old business owner who came to see Marco Rubio campaign Monday at the Peppermill in Reno.

"I enjoy Trump a lot, because I like somebody (to) answer back" against political opponents, Koewler says. "Cruz is just a little bit too intense, too religious or something for me. It seems like when he talks, it's a sermon. I don't have a good feeling about him."

Trump himself addressed this question during his victory remarks Tuesday night.

"Tomorrow, you'll be hearing, you know, if they could just take the other candidates and add them up - and if you could add 'em up, because you know the other candidates amount to 55 percent," Trump said at his victory rally at Treasure Island on the Las Vegas Strip (for some reason, he chose not to hold his party at the Vegas luxury hotel that bears his name). "They keep forgetting that when people drop out, we're gonna get a lot of votes!"


10:47 p.m. -- Sitting around a table at Reno High School, a group of voters debated whom to caucus for.

Like many Republicans, 56-year-old office worker Emily Velin was looking for electability. "God help us if we get a Hillary Clinton for a president, because we will be East Berlin all over again," Velin said. "And we need a person who can bring out the gloves and take her down."

But Velin did not caucus for Marco Rubio, who's viewed by many observers as the most electable GOP candidate. She caucused for Donald Trump.

Exit polls suggest Trump won among caucus goers of all ideologies. One Republican at Reno High told fellow voters at her precinct that she thinks Trump is a moderate - and she meant it as a compliment.




9:15 p.m. -- The Associated Press and major TV networks have all declared Donald Trump the winner of Nevada's Republican caucuses.

Early results show that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are fighting for second place, with Ben Carson and John Kasich trailing behind.

Exit polls show Trump winning among Republicans who describe themselves as very conservative, somewhat conservative and moderate.

8:00 p.m. -- In contrast to reports of confusion and anger in other parts of Nevada, the caucuses at Reno High School appear to have gone quite smoothly.

There are 23 different precincts caucusing there, with 4,400 potential voters.

While most cast their ballots and left long ago, some are still there debating their candidates.

One undecided voter who Ben Adler spoke with in line earlier is still there too -- and he's still undecided. He likes all of the three leading candidates - Trump, Rubio and Cruz - though was leaning ever so slightly towards Rubio because he's looking for the most electable candidate.


7:40 p.m. -- At Reno High School, where more than a dozen different precincts are holding caucuses, the line of Republican voters stretched out the door and around the school. It took caucus volunteers well over an hour to get everyone signed in.

Fortunately for the late arrivals, GOP caucuses are different from Democratic caucuses. Democrats must be present for the entire process in order for their votes to count. In fact, Hillary Clinton lost a delegate at one caucus precinct Saturday because one of her supporters had to leave early to get to work.

Republican caucus goers can simply walk in, cast a paper ballot, and leave. (Or they can stay for hours and debate their candidates, which many voters have done.) So some caucus goers left very quickly, and others who arrived late have still been able to have their votes count.

6:45 p.m. -- Republican caucusing has begun.





5:30 p.m. -- Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. for the Nevada Republican presidential caucus. Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler is in Reno covering the events.


1:33 p.m. Nevada Republicans get their chance to pick a presidential nominee tonight. The leading GOP candidates are stumping for votes throughout the state. 

At a Donald Trump rally in Sparks, Nevada, accountant Kym Jackson says Washington D.C. needs big change.

"If it was up to me, everyone would be kicked out," says Jackson. 

Trump is seen as the frontrunner in Nevada — but Marco Rubio is making a strong push for voters concerned about electability, like Reno graphic designer Denise Brodt.

"I was a Donald Trump supporter, but I'm actually changing to Marco now," says Brodt.

Ted Cruz also has strong support from many conservatives, including Reno business consultant Mike Hartman.

"We want people who are going to do what they say and I think he has been one of those people," explains Hartman.

Nevada has 30 Republican delegates up for grabs. Caucus start times vary by county; in Washoe County, doors open at 5 p.m. and caucusing begins at 6 p.m. The Nevada Republican Party expects to start reporting results around 9 p.m.

 GOPElection 2016

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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