Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continued his winning streak Tuesday night, recording another landslide victory in the Nevada Republican caucuses earning support from 46 percent of caucus-goers. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were the runners-up, earning 24 and 21 percent of the vote, respectively.
Trump seems to have capitalized on a dissatisfied Nevada electorate, 57 percent describing themselves as “angry” with the federal government and 60 percent preferring a political “outsider”, according to entrance polls.
More surprisingly, the same polls also showed the New York billionaire won among Latino caucus-goers, which Trump referred to in his victory speech saying, “I’m really happy about that.”
Despite finishing third — 24.5 points behind Trump — Sen. Cruz continued to focus on electability in his post caucus speech, arguing, “If you are one of the 65 percent of Republicans across the country who doesn’t think Donald is the best candidate to go head-to-head with Hillary, who believes we do better in elections when we actually nominate a conservative, then the first four states have performed a vital function of narrowing this race and presenting a clear choice.”
As for Marco Rubio, Florida’s outgoing junior senator left the Silver State before the caucus results were announced, preferring to get a head start on two March primary states — Michigan and Minnesota. Rubio’s best argument going forward, as he implied recently, is that when Gov. John Kasich drops out “the alternatives to Trump will get stronger.”
Kasich’s chief campaign strategist fired back in a memo released late Tuesday night, which read: “Contrary to what his campaign is trying to portray, Senator Rubio just endured another disappointing performance despite being the highest spending candidate in Nevada.”
The Cruz campaign also published a statement pushing back against the establishment favorite: “Marco Rubio started working early and put a significant amount of resources into making Nevada the one early state he could win. But despite the hype, Rubio still failed to beat Donald Trump.”
Indeed, the enthusiasm factor for Trump is off the charts right now. Turnout in Nevada for the Republican caucuses more than doubled between 2012 and 2016, with 75,000 participating Tuesday, compared to just 33,000 four years ago.
With the Silver State’s caucus now in the books, the delegate totals for the top three GOP candidates are as follows: Trump – 81; Rubio – 17; Cruz – 17.
The next Republican primary votes will be cast on March 1, when 13 states will hold nominating contests with 661 delegates up for grabs.
[CNN] [Politico] [AP] [Photo courtesy Christopher Gregory/Getty Images]