Trump dominates Nevada caucuses
Donald Trump rode the momentum from his victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina to a stunningly large victory in the Nevada caucuses.
As of early this morning, Trump was shown getting nearly 46% of the vote. Finishing a distant and disappointing second was Marco Rubio with 24%. Ted Cruz finished third with 21%.
The results in Nevada, a state where 30 delegates are at stake, demonstrated the power of Trump's appeal in this anti-establishment year. It also underscored his ability to use his media savvy and enormous popularity to sweep a state with complex caucus rules and where rivals were far more organized.
Trump increased his vote share over what he won in other primary states, outpacing second place finisher Marco Rubio by double digits, even though Rubio spent part of his childhood in Nevada.
One of the most surprising aspects of Trump's win was that entrance polls showed he was winning among Latino GOP caucus-goers even though he has campaigned on a hard-line immigration platform, including building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Entrance polls indicated Latino caucusgoers made up 8% of the GOP electorate and 45% of them planned to back Trump. Historically, however, entrance and exit polls have not proved to be a reliable measure when it comes to the preferences of minority voters, particularly when the sample size was as small as it was in Nevada.
Still, Trump noted his showing among Latino Republicans in his victory speech: "Number one with Hispanics... I'm really happy about that," he said.
Driving Trump's victory were caucusgoers who said they wanted a president from outside the political establishment. While Trump played up support among Latino GOP caucusgoers, the electorate was primarily white—accounting for 84% of those who turned out to caucus. Some 6 in 10 caucusgoers said they were angry about the way the government is functioning.
The anti-establishment fervor within the electorate underscored the enormous challenge facing Rubio and Cruz in the coming weeks as they try to stop Trump. Rubio and Cruz had campaigned aggressively in Nevada, but had downplayed expectations as they tried to consolidate Trump-averse Republican voters around them.
Trump's vote creeping up near 50% is a sign that more and more Republicans are falling into line to support him. He could very well all but seal the deal next Tuesday in the so-called SEC primary, where 11 states will cast their ballots. Trump is ahead in most of them, and with Cruz and Rubio finishing far off the pace in Nevada, there's no reason to assume that Trump won't nearly run the board.