Trump widens lead with Nevada win
Donald Trump notched a win in Nevada’s Republican caucuses Tuesday as Marco Rubio bid to elbow out Ted Cruz for second place in an increasingly urgent effort to slam the brakes on the Trump juggernaut.
Trump now has three straight victories – in the West, the South and Northeast – a testament to his broad appeal among the mad-as-hell voters making their voices heard in the 2016 presidential race.
Six in 10 caucus goers said they were angry with the way the government is working, and Trump got about half of those angry voters, according to preliminary results of an entrance poll.
Nevada was a critical test for Rubio and Cruz, the two senators battling to emerge as the clear alternative to the GOP front-runner. Rubio was out to prove he can build on recent momentum, while Cruz was looking for a spark to recover from a particularly rocky stretch in his campaign.
Rubio, already campaigning in Michigan as caucus results rolled in, was projecting confidence that he can consolidate the non-Trump voters who have been splintering among an assortment of GOP candidates, saying, “we have incredible room to grow.”
Cruz, a fiery conservative popular among voters on the GOP’s right, finished a disappointing third in South Carolina after spending much of the past two weeks denying charges of dishonest campaign tactics and defending his integrity. Another disappointing finish in Nevada would raise new questions about his viability heading into a crucial batch of Super Tuesday states on March 1.
“There’s something wrong with this guy,” Trump said with his usual measure of tact during a massive Las Vegas rally Monday night. The former reality television star tweeted Tuesday, “He used him as a scape goat-fired like a dog! Ted panicked.”
Preliminary results of the entrance poll found that about 3 in 10 early caucus goers said the quality that mattered most to them in choosing a candidate was that he shares their values, slightly more than the quarter who said they want a candidate who can win in November.