Donald Trump trounced his rivals in the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday, notching his third consecutive victory and giving the Manhattan mogul even more momentum heading into Super Tuesday next week, when voters in a dozen states will cast their ballots.
Trump’s decisive win, which the Associated Press announced immediately after polls closed, was propelled by an electorate even more enraged than the ones that had swept him to wins in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and a second-place showing in Iowa.
For the first time in the 2016 primary season, media entrance polls showed that a majority of voters, 57 percent of Nevada caucus-goers, said they were "angry" with the federal government."We love Nevada. We love Nevada,” Trump declared in his victory speech. "You're going to be proud of your president and you're going to be even prouder of your country."
And, as significantly, they want to bring in an outsider to fix it. More than three in five caucus-goers said they favor someone from outside the political establishment rather than a candidate with political experience as president.
It all added up to Trump’s biggest night yet.
"Now we’re winning, winning, winning,” Trump said. “And soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning.”
The outcome was bad news for Marco Rubio, who is now 0 for 4 in the February contests, and Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses but finished a disappointing third in South Carolina on Saturday.
Those two senators continued to vie for the crucial mantle of the best candidate to eventually take down Trump. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Trump finished first with a whopping 46 percent of the vote, with Rubio and Cruz trailing far behind. Rubio came in second with 24 percent of the vote, while Cruz finished third with a little more than 21 percent.
Rubio skipped an election-night speech, while an exhausted-looking Cruz proclaimed himself the only legitimate alternative to Trump.
"The only campaign that has beaten Donald Trump and the only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign,” Cruz told supporters.
Stopping Trump now looks like a steeper proposition after he trampled Rubio and Cruz on Tuesday, scoring huge wins across nearly every cross-section of the Republican Party. Entrance polls show Trump won moderate voters and very conservative voters by huge margins. He won in rural and urban areas, and among voters with only high school diplomas and those with post-graduate degrees.
Trump even handily bested Cruz among his supposed base of evangelical Christians, and, though the sample was small, topped his two Cuban-American opponents among Hispanic caucus-goers.
Trump reveled in the details. "I love the evangelicals!” he yelled. "Number one with Hispanics,” he bragged.
And he pointedly called out the home states of his remaining rivals — Texas for Cruz, Florida for Rubio and Ohio for John Kasich — as places he now leads in the polls and will win in the coming weeks.
“It’s going to be an amazing two months,” he said. "We might not even need the two months to be honest, folks."
Indeed, it's not clear where anyone can next beat Trump, though Cruz looked ahead to Texas, which votes on March 1, in his speech.
"I cannot wait to get home to the great state of Texas,” he said.