The Washington Post

None-of-the-above won a Democratic primary this week. It was only a matter of time.

Earlier this week, Nevada Democrats chose the candidate they thought best qualified to be elected governor of the state: no one. Or, rather, not "no one," but "not any of the candidates who were actually running."

Thanks to a 1975 state law, Nevadans have the option to cast a vote for "none of these candidates." And on Tuesday, that's what Democratic voters did, voting for no one nearly 22,000 times. "None of these candidates" took 30 percent of the vote and finished first.

It's not the first time that no one has won a campaign. As the Los Angeles Times reported in 2010, "'None' won U.S. House primaries in 1976 and in 1978, the same year it won the GOP secretary of state primary. It also claimed victory in the 1986 Democratic primary for state treasurer."

This is the first time in recent years that "None" has triumphed, however. And it's not a surprise that it happened in a Democratic primary. Democrats, it turns out, like voting for nobody quite a bit more than Republicans.

In primary campaigns since 1998, Democrats have voted for "none of these candidates" at higher rates than Republicans, according to data from the U.S. Election Atlas. Over 120,000 votes have been cast for no one in eight races on the Democratic side, with "None" having and average finish of 2.5 (in other words, somewhere between second and third). "None" kept doing better in gubernatorial primaries, too: third in 2006 and second in 2010. In all primaries, "None" scooped up 15.6 percent of the vote, on average.

On the Republican side, "None" does worse, with an average finish of 3.9, at 9.5 percent of the vote.

You're probably wondering what actually happens in Nevada's gubernatorial race. Obviously, "no one" can't run for office. (Well, maybe that's not totally obvious.) The answer: the second-place finisher moves forward. Meaning that Bob Goodman, with 24.8 percent of the vote, gets the opportunity to run against to incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval (R).

Goodman is widely expected to lose. But at least he won't be losing to no one. Well, probably. You never know.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Quoted
We'll have half a million voters in South Carolina. I can shake a lot of hands, but I can't shake that many.
Sen. Marco Rubio, speaking to a group of reporters about his strategy to regain support after a poor performance in the last debate
Fact Checker
Sanders’s claim that Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies’
Sanders said that Clinton was critical of Obama in 2008 for suggesting meeting with Iran. In fact, Clinton and Obama differed over whether to set preconditions, not about meeting with enemies. Once in office, Obama followed the course suggested by Clinton, abandoning an earlier position as unrealistic.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

the-fix

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.