Republican Donald Trump has a clear path to the Republican presidential nomination after winning his third nominating contest with a commanding lead. On Tuesday evening, Feb. 23, 2016, angry Nevada Republicans chose Trump as the candidate they overwhelmingly support in their caucuses. Trump won by over 20 points over his next opponent Florida Senator Marco Rubio, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz closely trailing Rubio. Trump won all demographic groups in a vote that indicate Republicans are looking outside the establishment for the solution and their presidential nominee.
With his third win in a row in New Hampshire, South Carolina and now Nevada, Trump now seems to have the momentum to win the nomination. The Hill is even referring to Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee not seeing how any other candidate could stop his momentum or chances from winning most of the 12 Super Tuesday states in the South and Southwest on March 1.
After all the precincts had reported their results Trump won Nevada with a runaway lead of 45.91 percent of the vote and 14 delegates, Rubio came in second with 23.85 percent and seven delegates, and Cruz was third with 21.38 percent of the vote and six delegates. Nevada had 30 delegates at stake. Retired Neurosurgeon, Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich, placed a distant fourth and fifth respectively and are now facing pressure to withdraw from the campaign but are not relenting.
Trump’s win was so large because according to the exit polls he had the most support from all demographic groups including the very conservative (38 percent) and conservative voters (47 percent), and especially moderates (56 percent). Trump also won the evangelical vote (41 percent) and surprisingly considering his position on immigration the Hispanic vote (44 percent). Trump’s victory was a big win for the anti-establishment movement, with 6 in 10 voters saying they were angry with the status quo. MSNBC analyst Steve Kornacki commented, “This is not a factional candidate. This is a candidate with broad appeal across the board in the Republican Party.”
Trump gave a short victory speech in Las Vegas, where expressed that soon his campaign will win big in the upcoming nominating contests. Trump said, “We love Nevada. We will be celebrating for a long time tonight.” The GOP frontrunner was also surprised at his margin of victory, “We weren’t expected to win too much and now we’re winning, winning, winning the country. And soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning.” Trump predicted he would soon win the nomination, “It’s going to be an amazing two months. We might not even need the two months.”
Trump was excited and pleased that he was the favorite of all demographics saying, “We won the evangelicals, we won with young, we won with old, we won with highly educated, we won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.” Trump has been particularly pleased with winning the Hispanic vote, “You know what I am really happy about? I’ve been saying it for a long time: 46 percent with Hispanics, No. 1 with Hispanics.”
Second place Rubio was not in Nevada to give a concession speech, but third place finisher Cruz was and it sounded as if he won the caucuses rather than place third. Cruz congratulated his opponent “on a strong evening tonight.” Trump’s attacks and insults he has thrown at Cruz have been relentless. Cruz tried to spin his third place saying, “The role of the first four primaries, historically, has been to narrow the field.” Still playing off his win in Iowa and attacking Rubio, Cruz said, “History teaches us that nobody has ever won the nomination without winning one of the first three primaries. And there are only two people who have won one of the first three primaries: Donald Trump and us.”
Now all eyes turn to the Super Tuesday states, where Trump leads in all but Cruz’s native Texas. Republicans have contests in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. For the GOP, there are 595 delegates at stake on March 1, a quarter of all delegates available. To clinch the nomination a GOP candidate needs 1,237 delegates. At this time, Trump has 79, Cruz has 16 and Rubio has 15. As Marco Rubio pointed on CBS’ This Morning, when appeared Wednesday morning, Feb. 24 it is all about the delegate count. Rubio summed up the game well, “It’s not based on how many states you win. It’s based on how many delegates you pick up.”