Businessman Donald Trump is a step closer to the U.S. Republican presidential nomination after easily winning the Nevada caucuses Tuesday, giving him his third win in four early nominating contests.
“We love Nevada,” Trump told supporters at the Treasure Island casino on the Las Vegas Strip as he declared victory.
“The whole thing it’s going to be an amazing two months,” he added, referring to the next primary contests. “We might not even need the two months.”
“We’re gonna get greedy for the United States,” he pledged. “We’re gonna bring in so much money, so much everything.”
The business mogul won about 46 percent of the vote — 22 points ahead of his closest competitor, Marco Rubio, who drew 24 percent. Ted Cruz came in third place in the state with around 21 percent, Ben Carson came in fourth with around 4.8, and John Kasich came in last with about 3.6 percent.
After Trump’s loss in the opening nominating contest in Iowa to Cruz, Republican figures were anticipating that the billionaire’s insurgent candidacy was stalled.
However, since then, Trump has tallied wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and now Nevada, with a suite of southern states ahead on March 1, so-called Super Tuesday. Trump has gained the upper hand in the region. And since Trump polls particularly well in the Northeast too, March 1 could turn out well for him.
“If you listen to the pundits, we weren’t expected to win too much, and now we’re winning, winning, winning the country,” Trump said at a victory rally in Las Vegas.
Polls suggest Trump will do well in many of those Super Tuesday states, placing further pressure on Cruz, Rubio, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, another presidential candidate who was not a factor in Nevada, to come up with counter-measures quickly.
“These guys have to figure out how to turn their fire on Trump,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist in Washington. Absent that, he said, “Which one is going to get out of this field?”
In the run-up to Nevada, most of Trump’s rivals left him alone, opting to struggle with each other in a bid to be the last surviving challenger to the front-runner.
Not long after Trump’s win was certified in Nevada, Cruz’s campaign released a statement criticizing Rubio for not winning the state, but did not mention Trump at all.
When things calm down on the Ides of March, about 58 percent of delegates in the GOP contest will be allotted. So the next three weeks will hold important happenings. The bigger the delegate lead Trump amasses during this phase, the more difficult he’ll be to stop.